A topic of controversy that rippled across the internet earlier this year was Ubisoft’s decision to leave out female assassin’s from their recently launched game, Assassin’s Creed Unity. Originally, Unity did have plans to include a female avatar as part of the main options available for the assassins in the co-op experience that’s meant to be played along three other friends, but was left out because the developer deemed it too much work.
“It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets,” Creative Director Alex Amancio told Polygon in a recent interview. “Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work.”
Female avatars have become increasingly popular in many of today’s most iconic game franchises. It’s a completely doable task. For one, Mass Effect did it by making a female variant of the game’s lead character and the franchise has gone on to become one of the most recognized in the video game industry. In fact, the Female Shepard has been proven to be more popular among fans than the Male Shepard.
Ubisoft’s already done this as well with Aveline being the main character from Assassin’s Creed: Liberation! And at least in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and in Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag you could recruit female assassin’s to your cause. Ubisoft’s gone the extra mile and done the extra work before to positive reception, so why can’t they do it once more? Because it would add more production time?
Even Jonathan Cooper, the Animation Director of Assassin’s Creed 3 is confused about why female and male characters in the game can’t share animations like they have in past entries to the series.
Fun fact #2: Aveline de Grandpré shares more of Connor Kenway’s animations than Edward Kenway does. pic.twitter.com/lFHHnBfLht
— Jonathan Cooper (@GameAnim) June 11, 2014
Cooper also goes on to explain the Trend Blend System which essentially cuts down time on which it takes to animate characters.
With the new Trans Blend System, the animator was able to create a new animation set by only redoing the idle and basic navigation animations. A new set could be done with fewer than 10 new animations. How did we do this? When we transition from a pose to a walk, the generic base motion action would get triggered and then cross-fade with the new specific walk animation. It gave a great result and meant that animators no longer had to worry about animating all the transition animations. This allowed us to create more animation sets in much less time, using less content.
When women represent almost half the gaming population, about 48 percent according to the Entertainment Software Association’s 2014 Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry, Ubisoft needs to reevaluate its stance on Assassin’s Creed Unity to stay relevant within the industry. They’re missing out on a very large percentage of potential buyers by brushing aside the female population.
A multi-million dollar game that has the backing of ten studios can’t possibly use the excuse that it will take too much time, that’s just downright lazy.