Five Reasons Why Ubisoft's Statement About The Lack of Female Assassins in Unity Is Bogus

Ubisoft believes that a female assassin would take too much production time. Here's five reasons why they should make the time.

Earlier this week Assassin's Creed Unity creative director Alex Amancio told Polygon that there would be no playable female assassins in the game, blaming the need for extra work.

"It's double the animations, it's double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets, especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work."

Unity's level designer Bruno St. Andre echoed Amancio's sentiments, estimating that "more than 8,000 animations would have had to be recreated on a different skeleton."

Usually one wouldn't glance twice at a statement like that. Not including a female character isn't exactly new nor is it unheard of to cut things due to development constraints. In the case of Assassin's Creed Unity, however, excluding female assassins is a bigger issue. Here's five reasons why women should be included among the assassin's ranks.

1. Women played a prominent role in the French Revolution.

One of the key moments of the French Revolution was the The March on Versailles, a march that was started by women angered by the inflated price of bread. The march would end with the king forced out of Versailles back to Paris at the enthused behest of the now violent protesters.

Other women such as anti-Jacobin Club writer Olympe de Gouges could easily make in appearance in Unity, especially since a gameplay trailer from the Ubisoft E3 conference shows that at least part of the game takes place during the Reign of Terror. There were even female assassins during the French Revolution. In fact....

2. The most famous assassin of the French Revolution was a woman.

Jean-Paul Marat was a well-known figure of the Revolution and writer of the paper L'Ami du peuple ("The Friend of the People") who supported the Jacobin Club's rise to power. Unfortunately, he was also a leading figure in the Reign of Terror and played a key role in the September Massacres. He's exactly the kind of guy you'd see as a late-game target in an Assassin's Creed game.

Unfortunately, you won't be seeing Arno take him down if Ubisoft wants to preserve historical accuracy.

On July 13, 1793, Marat was stabbed to death in his bathtub by Girondin sympathizer Charlotte Corday. She would be quoted to saying "I have killed one man to save a thousand" at her trial before being put to death by guillotine on July 17th. That kind of attitude and her actions would have made her a perfect fit to be an assassin in Unity, or at least have an assassin heavily based on her. Unfortunately, we can't see that since Ubisoft doesn't have the time to create a female assassin model. Well, maybe it wouldn't take that much time since....

3. Ubisoft's estimate for resources needed to make female assassins is heavily exaggerated.

Ubisoft's claims about needing to do things like create "8,000 new frames of animation" for a playable female assassin are being debunked by industry professionals. The most damning of these are from Assassin's Creed III's Animation Director Jonathan Cooper, who claims that making a female assassin would only take "A day or two's work" by simply changing a handful of key animations.

It's hard to disagree with Cooper, especially since Ubisoft's claim of needing "double the animations" implies needing a brand new set of animations just for women. Could you tell the animation difference between a man and a woman pulling themselves up to a rooftop? What about crouching on a ledge? So many animations in Assassin's Creed are already so androgynous that you could copy and paste most of them and have fans be none the wiser.

It's not even like the Assassin's Creed series doesn't have any women to base things off either, since....

4. Assassin's Creed: Black Flag has playable female assassins.

Four of them, to be precise. The Firebrand, Lady Black, Puppeteer, and Rebel character options in Black Flag's multiplayer all use female models. This is literally the last Assassin's Creed game Ubisoft made and it even appeared on next-gen systems, so what is so different from those models and the models used in Unity (especially since both games run under the AnvilNext engine)? I'm not a 3D modeler, but why can't the models be carried over or at least their skeletal structure? Why could it possibly take double the assets to make something you've already created before?

It is true that additional assets would be needed, like added voice acting and a few extra visual things, but double? Not very likely. Even if it did, it's shocking the Assassin's Creed team wouldn't push harder for it since....

5. Diversity is a pillar of the Assassin's Creed series.

You see it at the beginning of every Assassin's Creed title. “Assassin’s Creed is developed by a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs." It seems like a statement to protect themselves from any cultural backlash, but it's really reflected the incredible diversity seen between game to game. From Altaïr to Ezio to Connor, we've jumped between cultures in nearly every game with great attention to detail. They even had Native American voice actor Noah Watts play Connor in Assassin's Creed 3

With that level of respect for diversity, why would creating a female assassin suddenly become too much work in a setting where it would make perfect sense?

That said, let's not lose our heads about the issue.

I'm not looking to villianize Ubisoft with this list. I think they're a great company who does fantastic work. I'm also not looking for them to replace Arno with a female protagonist.

With that level of respect for diversity, why would creating a female assassin suddenly become too much work in a setting where it would make perfect sense?

All I want is to see them try harder than hiding behind weak excuses and help show an important piece of French history from the perspective of someone who would be directly affected by it. Maybe they could create a DLC pack down the line with a female French assassin. Maybe they could even make an entire spinoff title based on the concept.

In any case, I have faith in Ubisoft. Here's hoping an announcement for Assassin's Creed: March on Versailles isn't too far away.

Columnist

I'm a freelance contributor that adores the art and culture of gaming. I'm an indie game enthusiast who loves supporting a game with a small budget and new ideas. I also love pro wrestling, tabletop RPGs, and Cadbury Creme Eggs.

Published Jun. 12th 2014
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Correspondent
    But also the developers of Blacklight Retribution said it is very easy, not time consuming and cost effective to put a female in a game. And they were making an FPS where hitboxes matter. In AC, they don't so they can go to town on design as well.
  • Daniel Lawson
    I'm tired of this crap... if the developer tells you it's a resource issue it's probably true. Would it be (relatively) easy to add females to the game... sure, but how close are they to being against their dead line and how close are they to their budget. Female assassin's are hardly the coolest thing to ever get cut do to resources.
  • Capt. Eliza Creststeel
    Contributor
    - That could be one of the problems with trying to pump out an annual title. At some point, what else may go? Could the games lose other content to satisfy their goals?
  • Si_W
    You know, there's a really simple solution to this "too much work to include female playing characters" you know.

    When doing initial game design, only have female characters.

    Problem solved.
  • Elijah Beahm
    Featured Columnist
    Thor: I like this post. ANOTHER! *smashes glass against floor*
  • Mary Yeager
    Senior Intern
    awesome.
  • Amy White
    Former Editor in Chief
    Yet again, I need a like button. (This reply about like buttons will have to suffice.)
  • Capt. Eliza Creststeel
    Contributor
    Glad you took the time to break this argument down.

    So, anyone else wondering if they're just going through the motions anymore with this franchise?

    They'd better keep things up, the Assassin's Creed film is in production and it wouldn't look good for the game to start losing its following.
  • WesleyG
    Columnist
    I was so afraid when I heard that they were making yearly Assassin Creed games. It's not like a sports game where fans are just fine with some minor tweaks and a roster update. These are huge narrative-driven games. There is probably a team hard at work on the early stages of Assassin's Creed 7 as we speak. That's insane. These games are deep enough that you could easily do a bi-annual series entry and put that extra level of polish that only comes from extensive QA testing and debugging.

    I don't think Unity will lose any fans based on what we've heard so far, but I remember encountering a few bugs playing through Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag that made me worry about the speedy development cycles these games are going through. I'm just really hoping we don't see more serious bugs in Unity.

    Thanks for reading Eliza.
  • Mary Yeager
    Senior Intern
    To be honest, I think this decision goes further up than the head of the games themselves as Far Cry 4 had the same excuse for why women aren't in that game.
  • Daniel Lawson
    except that Assassin's Creed franchise falls under a woman still
  • Capt. Eliza Creststeel
    Contributor
    - Something else to consider is that these folks love doing DLC. So, perhaps some historical characters including the aforementioned female assassin might find their way into add-on material.

    That way, they still meet their deadlines for release but can take the time to add other details without being under the gun. And hey, they can charge more money.
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Nice article.

    As for the contrasting explanations between the developers, there's some misinterpretation there, I think. If you got them both in a room to explain, I think we'd arrive at a more realistic explanation.

    But anyway, as they've done it before, I don't see why they didn't want to in Unity. I suppose it could have something to do with the plot, I don't know.

    Oh, but P.S. That bit about the woman stabbing the guy in the bathtub...that really doesn't make her an "assassin," especially in the sense of the assassins we play as in these games. :) That being said, women can be every bit as devious and vicious as men if they want to be, so it's hardly a shocker.
  • WesleyG
    Columnist
    If we learned anything from the Microsoft debacle last year, it's that the worst quotes come out of E3. It's hectic, it's loud, and you've probably got a microphone jammed in front of your face whenever you aren't demoing your game. I'd imagine it's extremely easy for a game developer to trip over themselves in that kind of atmosphere.

    Also, a woman stabbing a dude in a bathtub is totally an assassin, especially in Assassin's Creed logic! She put a knife into the guy because of an atrocity he was linked to. That basically describes every reason Connor killed someone in AC3. Swear her in now!

    Seriously though, thank you for reading.
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Well, what I meant was that we play as highly trained assassins. It's their job; it's what they do. In the case of that woman, she was not an assassin. She acted as an assassin for about five seconds, but it's hardly what Ezio or Connor actually do in the games. :)
  • WesleyG
    Columnist
    I'm just messing around. Still, if George Washington can be an Assassin, Corday could probably make the cut too.

    Heh, cut. Get it?
  • Mary Yeager
    Senior Intern
    I would buy the excuse about it being hectic and loud if the same quote had not also been spouted by the head of Far Cry 4 as well. Someone else is telling them what to say on why the women weren't included.
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    As Amanda stated for the lame excuse "..it's hard...but the boob jiggle physics!" Lol. I truly hope they change their tune for the future.
  • WesleyG
    Columnist
    I really think they will. Ubisoft is actually one of the better companies when it comes to diversity and Unity is in the minority when it comes to lacking female assassins. After reading some additional stories, I'm pretty sure Unity will remain without a woman in the Assassin's Guild, but I'd bet that they're making sure the next Assassin's Creed entry has a good mix of genders.
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    One would hope on the next entry.

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