“I Can’t Even Right Now With The Women,” Says Ubisoft

Ubisoft has determined that the ladies are not a vital part of its next Assassin’s Creed game, Unity. Female avatars for multiplayer will not be featured because, and this is paraphrased: “I can’t even right now with the women. Animating men is easy but women? Pssh. The boobs are like, millions of dollars to get those things right because I’m pretty sure they don’t work according to physics? They’re like, ghost spheres or demon orbs. And don’t even get me started on vaginas. What even are vaginas? Where are they? Do they have powers? Given that we do not know any women, and we have not been able to capture any of these elusive creatures, we will be striking their mythic presence from our game because honestly, nobody has even proven to me they exist. The game will, however, feature a Bigfoot Robot to replace Napoleon.”

Okay, they didn’t say that, exactly.

From the article:

“It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets,” Amancio said. “Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work.”

In the game’s co-op mode, players will have custom gear but always view themselves as Arno, Unity‘s star. Friends are displayed as different characters with the faces of other assassins.

“Because of that, the common denominator was Arno,” Amancio said. “It’s not like we could cut our main character, so the only logical option, the only option we had, was to cut the female avatar.”

Speaking with Polygon during a different interview, level designer Bruno St. Andre estimated more than 8,000 animations would have had to be recreated on a different skeleton.

Oh, well, jeez, that is tough.

Creating a diligently, realistically-imagined version of Paris during the French Revolution was easy, apparently, compared to including women as playable avatars. Something that many other games accomplish — Bioware makes an effort to do this, which is what you have to do, isn’t it? Make an effort. Something Ubisoft cannot be bothered to do, it seems.

I mean, The Sims lets you play as a man, woman, boy, girl, or androgynous space Frankenstein.

Oh, but maybe history plays a role, right? Because there surely weren’t women assassins –

Wait, wuzzat?

Charlotte Corday was a female assassin from the French Revolution?

Oh. Huh.

Huh.

But, hey, history is too much work.

Women? Just too much work, too.

Thankfully, me spending money on this game is also — say it with me — too much work. Acknowledging approximately half of your game audience was just too hard for Ubisoft, and so do not be surprised if it’s just too hard for me to spend money on a game that cannot even do the bare minimum in terms of inclusion. C’mon, Ubisoft. Really? Fucking really? You’ve been progressive in the past, so what gives? Why the backpedaling? Why the lazy lean toward the outmoded (and unproven) assertion that women don’t play AAA games? Do better. Make effort. Spend the coin.

Otherwise, why will folks spend their coin with you?

Vote with your dollar, folks.

Oh, hey.

I hear Bioware has a new game coming out

94 comments

  • If they can’t find the funds to include the option for a female avatar, it sounds like the game is on a real shoestring because the franchise isn’t doing well. I wonder what other corners they’re going to have to cut to avoid going over budget. It doesn’t bode well.

  • Yeah, this is almost as big a deal as climate change or Citizens United or net neutrality. More unrealistic female body types in video games will be a big step forward for equality. Got it.

    Next think you know, Ubisoft will be telling you that there should be a man in ‘Blackbirds’ equally as important as Miriam.

    • The problem I have with your argument (there are more important things to worry about, to paraphrase) is that we can, as rational beings, be concerned about more than one thing at once. As a father of daughters, and a grandfather of granddaughters I’m concerned about the stereotypical nature of females within games, especially as both my daughters and granddaughters are gamers. I’m not as concerned, say, as I am about FGM, but I’d rather not buy gifts that encourage them to feel like they’re in any way second class or unimportant or just there as eye candy. Just because there are bigger issues doesn’t mean we have to ignore the smaller ones.
      As for your second point, if Ubisoft were to offer to pay me a sum of money to use an intellectual property I think that they would probably have a right to ask for a playable male character. I’d have a choice then, take the money and oblige, or say no and walk away. I, as a reader of Blackbirds, have no desire to see a male character parachuted in, the story just doesn’t need it.

    • Women being seen as unnecessary add-ons that can be removed or left out for reasons of economy *totally* have *nothing* to do with anything else that’s wrong with the world, got it.

      Also, I imagined your comment being said in the voice of Eric Cartman.

    • June 15, 2014 at 3:53 PM // Reply

      Aside from the fact your argument is a logical fallacy known as the false dilemma (you can google, right?) I’d say that millions of women affected by eating disorders, unrealistic sexual standards, suicidal thoughts, and being treated as nothing more than sexual objects because we impose unrealistic beauty standards on them daily is as big a deal as climate change or net neutrality. Nice job failing at arguing forever.

  • It’s very disappointing that Ubisoft would do this. I really enjoy the Assassin’s Creed games, and since they take such a long time to make anyway, I don’t see how it would hurt to take a bit more time and include playable female characters. It’s nice to be able to play a character in your own gender.

  • Well my fiancé and me won’t be buying it either. When I told him this he was like “What the hell? I like playing female avatars more than dudes.”
    I also rarely play dudes.
    So no money from us. *shrugs*

  • At this point you should just accept that if you see a little EA icon anywhere near a video game that it is going to blow. That goes for the new Dragon Age, too. Expect disappointment when a game is associated with Electronic Arts.

  • June 12, 2014 at 2:19 PM // Reply

    From the article: “… it was dear to the production team, so you can expect that it will happen eventually…”

    I’m a female game dev and nine years ago I worked on a game project in a similar situation. I was even interviewed by a female gaming site and when I gave hauntingly similar and fully truthful answers to the ones you read in the linked article, I was ridiculed by my fellow femme gamers. The most commonly repeated comment was that I must not be very knowledgable about my career, project or why it would amp up production costs to do female characters. This left a terrible taste in my mouth. Thank you, gaming fans. One more reason why.

    My fellow devs championed the feature of fully customizable female characters for the sequel to that game. A co-worker and I even used the original customization engine to create the most feminine looking character possible to show how close to that feature we already were.

    As a team, we got our female player characters into the franchise and since then the franchise has been lauded as one of the more gender friendly games out there. (Raunchy as hell, but it’s a equal opportunity offender.)

    What I’m saying here is believe that the dev team really wants to bring you female avatars but these business decisions that involve millions of dollars and their ability to stay employed are sometimes beyond their control. Lend them your voices that helps support the feature of female avatars. By all means, vote with your money. But please don’t tell yourselves the vile story that all of those devs are to a person money grubbing and lazy.

    • I’m glad someone is sharing this POV, it’s really frustrating to hear the constant stream of poor arguments about how evil Ubisoft has been.

  • June 12, 2014 at 7:56 PM // Reply

    Look, I get that axing an entire gender from a game with character creation is a bummer, as a straight male i still play male, female, bi and gay whenever the game lets me just to play different personas. I do not, however, lose my shit when a game does not let me do so.

    “more than 8,000 animations would have had to be recreated on a different skeleton”

    I’ve studied game design and 3D animation and that can be a shit-tonne of work. And just to clarify, redoing 8000 animations for an additional skeleton is alot of work, whether it is male or female – there is no gender in animation. A good few of my favourite games have been forced out and were half-assed due to time/money constraints and/or release dates. It sounds like they wanted to add women too but just didn’t have enough time/money/whatever to do so.

    This inflammitory piece seem more focused on painting a picture of this company delibritaly snubbing women and considering them an inferior and unworthy market rather than considering the ever increasing cost in time and money needed to release next-gen titles in todays market.

    I’ll agree that women lead protaganists are under-represented in todays culture but i seriously doubt the assasins creed designers set out to continue this trend. I mean seriously, I can go play a metroid or tomb raider game without flinging the disk out the window because i couldn’t create a male lead with a giant dick instead of giant boobs. Honestly would you immediately disgard the lord of the rings books because the lead is some stumpy little knee high man and not a women? no. You just take it as it is, a story, a piece of entertainment. Not everything need to lead to a gender war.

    • “Lose your shit” and “not buy the game” are not actually the same thing.

      Ubisoft has done well with this in the past.

      They aren’t doing well with it now.

      Other games and game companies are doing it right.

      Thus I will spend my money with them and not Ubisoft.

      This isn’t a “gender war.”

    • Also, the previous games had no problems including female characters in multiplayer, and that’s really my biggest issue. Yes, they could have easily done a female main character instead of a male character (and seriously, how much harder are boobs compared to muscles on men?), but the story is the story and whatnot. What’s stupid is the excuse (are there NO female characters in the game? That’d be dumb) and the fact that they’re not going to allow you to play a female character in multiplayer when all the other games had no problems with it. It’s just an excuse to cut corners.

  • It’s too much work, they say. Too much time, too much effort. They’re too tired, too busy, and they really just don’t wanna. And I mean come on, they rationalize, is it *really* that important? They remain unconvinced; this whole “you need diversity” thing is something a bunch of unreasonable people made up because of reasons.

    These guys sound like a lazy roommate trying to get out of doing housework.

  • Ummm…. I’m confused.

    Is this the same company?
    http://www.gamespot.com/articles/ubisoft-boss-not-happy-with-the-assumption-that-gamers-only-want-chainsaws-and-girls-in-bikinis/1100-6418995/

    “I don’t like the assumption that all people who play games want big chainsaws and women in bikinis. It’s like, really? Not all gamers are teenage boys, and even teenage boys want more than that,” Raymond said.

    The interviewer said that protagonists of many popular video games often are “husky voiced, emotionless asshole[s],” and Raymond seemed to agree.

    “It’s got to change, right?” she said, pointing out that even traditional action movies have evolved to a point where their main characters are more narratively complex.

  • Damn it, and I just started playing AC and I really love it, too. But this? I don’t think I can in good conscience play it now, at least not until they address this.

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