According to Ubisoft technical director James Therien, Assassin’s Creed Unity will not include playable women because it would be too much work.
No, really, that’s what he said.
"It was on our feature list until not too long ago, but it’s a question of focus and production," Therien explained. "So we wanted to make sure we had the best experience for the character. A female character means that you have to redo a lot of animation, a lot of costumes [inaudible]. It would have doubled the work on those things. And I mean it’s something the team really wanted, but we had to make a decision… It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality of game development."
All those female NPCs milling around in the cities of Assassin’s Creed? The plot-relevant secondary characters? Sure, Ubisoft can design, model, rig, animate, and voice-act them. Not a problem. But a playable woman, with character designs and animations no doubt similar to the other Assassins? That doubles the workload! How could the company be expected to surpass such an insurmountable obstacle, with such limited means?
"Again, it’s not a question of philosophy or choice in this case at all I don’t really [inaudible] it was a question of focus and a question of production. Yes, we have tonnes of resources, but we’re putting them into this game, and we have huge teams, nine studios working on this game and we need all of these people to make what we are doing here."
Tonnes of resources, huge teams, nine studios, no room for playable women. Not in the budget (that they wrote), not in the plan (that they made). No, it’s not their fault! It’s a reality of game development, not a flimsy justification for excluding women in a medium desperately in need of better representation.
“No female leads in Assassin’s Creed Unity ‘unfortunate but a reality of game development’ - Ubi.” (Steven Burns, Videogamer.com) 11 June 2014.