from the women-are-expensive dept
So, let's get this out of the way: I don't for a moment believe that Ubisoft, as a company, is sexist, prejudiced, or hates women. I really don't. It may well be a tone-deaf, unwieldly company without much concern for a huge percentage of its customer base, but I don't think the fact that it is suddenly excluding female characters from its games was something the company did out of any ill-feelings towards women. After all, Ubisoft has included female characters in many previous games, even games in the very franchises in question, which makes it all the more baffling why it would open itself up to all the backlash by opting out of the fairer sex this go around.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, there were two separate stories in the past week or so about flagship Ubisoft games nixing the planned inclusion of playable female characters in gameplay. The first concerns Assassin Creed: Unity, the next iteration in the franchise, which had planned to include the same female assassins for multiplayer from previous iterations, but then cut them out completely. Strangely, and likely adding to the fervor of the backlash, a second story came out revealing that plans to include female playable characters in multiplayer for Far Cry 4 have also been dropped, and for similar reasons. Regarding the Assassin's Creed story:
Speaking in an interview with Polygon, Unity creative director Alex Amancio said that while they originally planned to include female assassins, the "reality of production" made adding the additional characters too costly. The studio "had to" cut female assassins from the co-op mode, Amancio explained in response to a question from Polygon's Ben Kuchera, because keeping them in would have doubled the cost of pretty much everything: "it's double the animations, double the voices, all that stuff, double the visual assets—especially because we have customizable assassins."And Far Cry 4:
Speaking in an interview with Polygon, Alex Hutchinson, the game's director, said that the developers were "inches away" from allowing players to choose between a man or woman as a co-op buddy in the upcoming shooter's multiplayer. What stopped them? Hutchinson said it was "purely a workload issue." The team didn't have a "female reader for the character" at its disposal, nor did it have "all the animations in place."The reaction from gamers in general has been decidedly negative. What's worse, there is obviously no positive support for this either. If you're reacting to this news at all, you're almost certainly either very angry or you don't care one way or the other. Now, let's reiterate this to be very clear again: I'm not accusing Ubisoft of hating women, or of refusing to include female characters on any kind of ideological grounds. But that doesn't make the decision and the reasons provided any less stupid. Even other members of the game-developing industry are calling bullshit.
In my educated opinion, I would estimate this to be a day or two's work. Not a replacement of 8000 animations. - Jonathan Cooper, Naughty Dog and former Ubisoft animatorIs this some kind of major industry crisis? No, probably not, but as gaming develops as a major entertainment medium for a diversifying demographic base, companies that refuse to listen to the backlash on this kind of thing are going to find themselves in trouble. Something like this in particular really should have been thought through more carefully, even though it's not clear much thought was put into this at all. This isn't the 90's any longer and the average gamer looks far different than the stereotype. We're talking about a 31 year old, likely educated to some degree, person who is every bit as likely to be female as male. Seriously, 48% of gamers are women. The boys club's door has been beaten down by women and game developers had better start recognizing that or risk the consequences, because this was just refusing to put in the time to include some female multiplayer characters and the backlash got this big. Imagine what an even deeper slight to the woman gamer will cause.
"We don't really care to put the effort in to make a woman assassin" #realrealityofgamedevelopment - Manveer Heir, Bioware