Ubisoft, under fire for comments suggesting that creating a varied selection of playable multiplayer characters in Assassin's Creed Unity would create too much extra work, has issued a statement on diversity.
A comment from Ubisoft, provided to Kotaku, said that,"we recognize the valid concern around diversity in video game narrative".
In an interview earlier this week, Ubisoft creative director Alex Amancio said that a plan for female characters had been pulled from Unity. "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."
His explanation caused an E3-week furore. Former Assassin's Creed 3 animation director, Jonathan Cooper, now working at Naughty Dog, argued that extra female animations should only take "a day or two's work" to create.
The issue could hardly come at a worse time for Ubisoft, during a week when the company is attempting to focus publicity on its new games. Issues of diversity are dominating online conversations.
"Assassin's Creed is developed by a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs and we hope this attention to diversity is reflected in the settings of our games and our characters," added the statement.
"Assassin's Creed Unity is focused on the story of the lead character, Arno. Whether playing by yourself or with the co-op Shared Experiences, you the gamer will always be playing as Arno, complete with his broad range of gear and skill sets that will make you feel unique.
"With regard to diversity in our playable Assassins, we've featured Aveline, Connor, Adewale and Altair in Assassin's Creed games and we continue to look at showcasing diverse characters. We look forward to introducing you to some of the strong female characters in Assassin's Creed Unity."
Aveline (pictured), a Creole female protagonist, appeared in Vita game Assassin's Creed: Liberation, which was subsequently HD re-released on console. Adewale, of Africa descent, was a supporting character in Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag. Altair is a Middle Eastern character while Connor's mother in Assassin's Creed 3 was Native American.