Ubisoft CEO Says Company Will Work to Extend Diversity

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Ubisoft CEO Says Company Will Work to Extend Diversity

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Ubisoft's latest and upcoming games have included "bland" characters, and its inclusion of only male characters in the multiplayer of Assassin's Creed: Unity faces much criticism.

Ubisoft Yves Guillemot said the company will work to improve its diversity of characters in Ubisoft games. Guillemot's comments largely concern the criticisms of Watch Dogs' protagonist Aiden Pearce, but the company has faced a lot of criticism in the past week for its comments on excluding female characters.

Last week when the multiplayer options for Assassin's Creed: Unity were revealed to be four extremely similar variations of a white, male assassin, critics asked why Ubisoft had decided to omit female character options from multiplayer. Ubisoft creative leads said they had excluded making female characters playable because it would take too many resources to do so.

"We want to work on that," Guillemot said on diversity. "We want to spend more time on the worlds and characters in our games... you will see more and more of this at Ubisoft. We'll try to be less like we have been in the past with some characters. We'll try to extend more diversity."

Ubisoft's most recent game released is Watch Dogs, which features a 39-year-old white man motivated by the death of his niece. Beyond the lack of playable female characters, many of the women in the game were killed to advance Aiden's storyline, a trope called "fridging."

"We knew it would be polarizing," Guillemot said in regard to Watch Dogs. "Some people loved the characters and some didn't. It was difficult to please everybody with that character. Now, having seen the reaction, we know what we will do next to improve that."

Source: CVG

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They have now dug their own grave writing this, so if Ubisoft doesnt release new games with female characters then this will come back to haunt them.

If they are taking this serious then good on them, however i do fear that we may get another spin off, like Liberation, abd then claim that's good enough.
I do however think the French Revolution is probably an ideal setting for a female assassin,

Gah, that's a lot of work though. They're gonna have to do so much work setting up new characters and establishing new franchises.

Or not.

roseofbattle:

ry to be less like we have been in the past with some characters. We'll try to extend more diversity."

Ubisoft's most recent game released is Watch Dogs, which features a 39-year-old white man motivated by the death of his niece. Beyond the lack of playable female characters, many of the women in the game were killed to advance Aiden's storyline, a trope called "fridging."

Well his niece is already dead and one other female character dies (unless your counting all those you accidentally shoot or run over)?

It's good to hear that the internet masses are being heard over at Ubi headquaters, if anything actually happens.... well we'll see

Ah, the non-specific assurance of change... The get-out-of-jail-free card for any developer.

On the one hand this could just be `We just want everyone to shut up about this`, but on the other hand they could actually do something new with this.

Obviously people are making enough noise to get noticed about these things now.

Either way, I guess I'll wait and see how it turns out.

The Plunk:
More diversity doesn't automatically create less bland characters. Better writing would be nice regardless of the skin colour or gender of protagonists.

Oh, hi Mrs Sarkeesian, didn't know you were working for the Escapist now. Of course there were no men killed in Watch Dogs as part of the storyline, the patriarchy council wouldn't allow it.

You are aware Anita Sarkeesian did not invent the concept of tropes, right? "Fridging" in particular comes from a 1994 comic where Green Lantern comes home to find his girlfriend murdered and stuffed in a refrigerator ( http://www.lby3.com/wir/ ), one of many examples of how women in comics were often used as motivations for male protagonists rather than as legit characters in their own right. Regardless of what one thinks of her, Anita Sarkeesian has just worked to bring many of the tropes involving women into focus.

Better diversity "could" result in less reliance on tropes in general, which is a positive step for game writing, since overuse of tropes is weak writing regardless.

Am I the only one who thinks this is blown out of proportions?

Well I certainly won't complain if you start "extending diversity" with Beyond Good and Evil 2, Ubi *hint hint*.

Wouldn't a lot of their troubles and worries be resolved if they ... oh I dunno... released Beyond Good and Evil 2? I could have sworn that game had a fairly competent female protagonist. It's an IP they own, have established... hell, remake the first one in true current gen capabilities, then promote it's sequel. Bodda bing Badda Boom, everyone can be happy.

They just want everyone to shut up. Nothing will come from this, I guarantee it.

The Plunk:

Oh, hi Mrs Sarkeesian, didn't know you were working for the Escapist now. Of course there were no men killed in Watch Dogs as part of the storyline, the patriarchy council wouldn't allow it.

So what? Are you not allowed to criticize how female characters are killed off simply to give male characters a cheap motivation without being a feminazi now? Also, she didn't invent that phrase, it's been around for awhile.

OT: I like what they're saying, but I'm hesitant to trust them. I'll start complimenting them when I see results.

As long as it's done from a perspective of "let's try to tell interesting stories from the point of view of characters outside our comfort zone" and not just straight up tokenism for the sake of some good PR, then I don't really see anything to complain about if it's done well.

Oh, and Beyond Good & Evil 2 would be a good start.

image
I'll believe it when I see it Ubisoft. "It", or Beyond Good and Evil 2, whichever comes first.

Ubisoft has been much more diverse than most publishers. But, people are mad because ubisoft has not been diverse in this one specific way. You people are entitled.

We'll try to extend more diversity.

They'll try, then after the one person they have working part-time on creating new, interesting female characters fails to come up with a game that sells 10 million units they will deem it a failure and go back to Some White Dude searching for/avenging his kidnapped/murdered wife/daughter/female relative/babysitter (delete as appropriate) :P

As others mentioned, Beyond Good and Evil 2 would be a good start if they actually give a shit. They wouldn't even need to do all of the hardwork of creating a new main character or world. I think that if they are going to succeed with this they need to be sincere about wanting women in their games, shoehorning in a poorly written woman will stick out like a sore thumb and just make things worse. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Aside from a small number of Sarkeesian-bots shrieking about this at the top of their interweb-lungs, does anyone actually care?

Wow, suddenly we have to list age and ethnicity as well as gender? One poorly led bandwagon at a time, critics.

I think the next problem these movements will find is trying to find the balance between lynching writers and game developers for sex/race/age-ism and actually letting them tell a story.

Of course first we have to deal with the current problem, hopefully with less shoe-horned passive-aggressive warmongering than this post.

The Plunk:
More diversity doesn't automatically create less bland characters. Better writing would be nice regardless of the skin colour or gender of protagonists.

roseofbattle:

Ubisoft's most recent game released is Watch Dogs, which features a 39-year-old white man motivated by the death of his niece. Beyond the lack of playable female characters, many of the women in the game were killed to advance Aiden's storyline, a trope called "fridging."

Oh, hi Mrs Sarkeesian, didn't know you were working for the Escapist now. Of course there were no men killed in Watch Dogs as part of the storyline, the patriarchy council wouldn't allow it.

and even though I hate Sarkeesian as much as anyone else, you are comically missing the point.

it's one thing when men are the expendable gender, it's an entirely different thing when a vast majority of the female characters exist simply to be killed off later on because the plot said so.

Tolkienfanatic:
Aside from a small number of Sarkeesian-bots shrieking about this at the top of their interweb-lungs, does anyone actually care?

Nope. Only a very small number of people are interested in seeing a lead character that isn't a grizzled white dude. Only nutjobs could possibly think that having a woman as a lead character is a good idea, and the mere suggestion that Ubisoft should find room somewhere in their stable of AAA titles to maybe have one led by somebody of a different gender or ethnicity is absolutely ludicrous.

White men all the time: The gender and race of the lead characters doesn't matter, so they should all be the same.

Oh, good, the critics got what they wanted.

The company is monitoring the public reaction and will alter the spreadsheets and checkboxes for the future products.

Yay!

I wish everyone would just calm down about this. Of course it would take up too many resources to add a female character to the engine they've created simply for the purpose of a minor cosmetic difference in multiplayer. Whatever the Ubisoft guy said that made people get angry at him, he was in an interview and being pressured for an answer. Sometimes people say stupid things in those situations.
I agree that a female assassin would better fit the setting, but like it or not, it's the developers' story we're playing here, and they've decided to have a male assassin as the main character.

Me55enger:
Wow, suddenly we have to list age and ethnicity as well as gender? One poorly led bandwagon at a time, critics.

I think the next problem these movements will find is trying to find the balance between lynching writers and game developers for sex/race/age-ism and actually letting them tell a story.

Of course first we have to deal with the current problem, hopefully with less shoe-horned passive-aggressive warmongering than this post.

Not really, the thing with people who have defended Ubisoft and their bland characters is that they seem to be under the impression that the people criticizing them are trying to restrict the games writing and story. When, its not, its just wanting to basically have a more identifiable cast.

Just think of any game at all that involves multi-playable characters and think which one is your favorite and the reason will be because that character is different from the others.
Imagine the next fighting game like Tekken came out and had 15 fighters to pick from and they all looked like Jin Kazama with slight age differences and fighting style. How damn boring would that be?

This is exactly the opposite of what I wanted.

This is the pandering. This is saying people are bored with Classic Coke, make New Coke that is horrible, so people are thrilled when they return to classic coke.

Points of fact.

a.) bringing in four white dudes is actually SHOWING diversity. The main leads of the Assassin's Creed games involved a middle eastern man, a Italian man, A mix of Native American and British man, a Black creole woman, and whatever the Black Flag guy was.. I think he was just white. I personally have no problem having focus on the leads of this game be four white guys. And yes, I'm speaking as a black man. AC did enough for diversity.

The problem I had is with the reason. How much money and how many teams were put on this? You're telling me it would take too much time to model one woman? And even if it took another month... What of it? It's Assassin's Creed. It's not like people wouldn't buy it no matter when you put it out.

b.) Like my New Coke reference, this is fraught with problems. If the story is boring, if any part of the next game that *huge intake of breath* has an Asian Woman Pirate who left her Governor father's home when she found out that she was secretly the love child of a British father who threw her out when she admitted her bisexuality *phew* is boring... all these angry mobs will blame the fact that Ubisoft let the gameplay/story/setting/new innovations suffer in efforts to pander to the PC bleeding hearts.

Ubisoft has no idea how to market or damage control. It's best to acknowledge that the story they wanted to run with were these people who wanted their revolution and leave it at that.

Now. They dug themselves in deeper. With those in the Diversity Camp ready to rip the new game apart for how good it is and how lacking it is, ready to compare the next game after that one to how much it lacks compared to Unity and the new game fails to live up to their own expectations. And then those in the 'STOP TALKING ABOUT PC' camp ready to tear the game after Unity apart for any flaw, lifting it up and yelling "YOU SEE?!?! YOU SEE?!?! THIS IS WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU TRY TO SHOEHORN IN DIVERSITY. THIS TINY SECTION SUCKS BECAUSE THEY HAD TO FOCUS ON MAKING A WOMAN CHARACTER WHEN THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO!!!"

This response was probably the best they could do. The game is already eighty percent finished, it would take way to much time and effort at this point to change it and not have to change all the promotional material that they planned to release the next coming months. That shit cost them millions of dollars to produce and changing it now would be unfeasable.

I am dissapointed that they had to do this in the first place. The decision to drop female characters from the game probably didn't even come from the designers, most likely the suits crunching numbers and trying to cut cost wherever they could. The people who work on these games are just as nerdy as anyone on these forums; they know that gender inclusion in videogames is a hot topic right now and that cutting women would likely cause fallout.

It had to have been someone not in touch with any video game forums, who didn't visit Editorial style news sites like the Escapist or Polygon, and who had never even heard about a little place called Tumblr who made the decision to cut women from the game.

So I can forgive Ubisoft for making the mistake in the first place. I'm not angry, I'm just really disappointed in them

You know what this reminds me of? People making the claim that the hiding of IVs and EVs in Pokemon locks people unnecessarily out of the competitive aspect of the game.

Or that unbreedable Legendary Pokemon creat an environment where hacking in Pokemon is prevelant and deemed a necessary evil to help Give players the Pokemon they desire to possess when all hacking related issues could be solved removing this one road block while say giving an event pokemon could be met with a unique ball and alternate coloring.

Or how they should include character customization, not out of necessity, but because they call it your very own Pokemon Journey. And some level of controlling your characters appearance is not unwarranted since it is supposed to be your very own journey.

Or people asking for remakes of Red and Blue, Gold and Silver, Ruby and Sapphire.

Of course you want to know what made all these requests unique compared to these "requests"?

They were typically made by people who were already claiming to both play and own the games that they were making requests for.

Now internally within the community there is disagreement with the suggestions that I just listed. On the other hand many of these changes have taken place, and all the changes are in fact not too unhighly reasonable to suggest these changes would increase inclusivity in an already rather inclusive game.

Why are the above requests better then the "requests" made for the AC. Well my requests come from a person already playing the series, and will continue to play the series, with or without the changes. My only suggestion is that these changes would increase enjoyability for me, and others, has little chance to actually diminish sales and alienate the playerbase, disencourages hacking since it seems to be an issue to them. Whether these changes occur or do not occur, I am still a player of the franchise.

The requests made to Ubisoft, come from a claim that this change will increase audience appeal and sales... From people who also simultaneously claim they do not even play the game or series in question because of how strongly they feel they are being "excluded" Who claim they won't buy the new game because they are being "excluded" from enjoying the new game. So your requests come as non customers.

My requests are reasonable not because I have a right to them being met, but because I am a customer.

Your requests are not reasonable, because you aren't customers, posting as customers that you feel more character diversity is in order. You are non customers, claiming you will continue to be non customers, until diversity is met.

And this is why you are met with distaste and being ignored.

This does sound like a massive PR response to the criticism they've gotten as of late with some of the statements some of the employees have made.

If it's so difficult to please everybody with that character, then why do you keep making the same one over and over again?

ObsidianJones:

a.) bringing in four white dudes is actually SHOWING diversity. The main leads of the Assassin's Creed games involved a middle eastern man, a Italian man, A mix of Native American and British man, a Black creole woman, and whatever the Black Flag guy was.. I think he was just white. I personally have no problem having focus on the leads of this game be four white guys. And yes, I'm speaking as a black man. AC did enough for diversity.

Altair is a white dude with a middle eastern name. that's not the same thing as a middle eastern dude. Italian is white, don't kid yourself. Connor was indeed native, but his game sucked and he was just pissed off all the time for no reason. good idea, but try again. Liberation might as well not have happened for all the impact it had. If they wanted to make a statement there, they should've released it as a AAA title, not on the vita. Kenway is welsh and whiter than snow. So, no. adding 4 white dudes is not showing diversity. besides, it's not just about assassin's creed, it's about gaming as a whole. If some filmmaker goes 'hey, I'm gonna make a movie about vampires in high school who aren't evil but really kinda sensitive', you'd be totally right to call them out on it, doesn't matter if THEY hadn't done it before.

roseofbattle:

Ubisoft's most recent game released is Watch Dogs, which features a 39-year-old white man motivated by the death of his niece. Beyond the lack of playable female characters, many of the women in the game were killed to advance Aiden's storyline, a trope called "fridging."

Oh what the hell!?! How about a damn spoiler warning or a spoiler tag?!? Some of us did not have the money to get the game release day!! I did not click the link but now I am going to spend the rest of the next act wondering who the hell is getting killed next!

Angantyr:
Am I the only one who thinks this is blown out of proportions?

I can certainly see how you'd get that impression. This isn't really a response to one incident (not the lack of inclusion of a woman in AC so much as their sort of dubious claim that it'd be too expensive) as it is a backlash against a consistent, irritating, unresponsive trend.

Their response "we'll be more inclusive" has less to do with "we didn't like how people were angry about this one thing" and more to do with "oh, apparently people have been angry about this for a while."

ultreos2:

My requests are reasonable not because I have a right to them being met, but because I am a customer.

Your requests are not reasonable, because you aren't customers, posting as customers that you feel more character diversity is in order. You are non customers, claiming you will continue to be non customers, until diversity is met.

And this is why you are met with distaste and being ignored.

You're just assuming they are not customers. I've been a customer of Ubisoft and Ass. Creed a long time, and I want this. Many other customers do too.

This is just more `You aren't really gamers` crap.

Yes, we are. Wanting diversity does not automatically make one not a gamer.

ultreos2:
They were typically made by people who were already claiming to both play and own the games that they were making requests for.

So, Jim Sterling doesn't play Assassin's Creed? Neither does any other journalist who wrote about this? Neither does anyone else who plays it because you've supposedly read about people who don't play it making demands somewhere? Now sure, not everyone criticizing this probably plays Assassin's Creed games, but then, I doubt those people are requesting things to be done so much as simply criticizing, which doesn't really require you to be a customer to do.

And this is why you are met with distaste and being ignored.

Let's be honest now. The distaste shows up every time anyone, anywhere asks for more diversity because of censorship, or pandering, or some other bullshit that only exists in relation to gender or racial issues for some stupid, totally not racist or sexist reason. It's not because these people aren't actual customers, it's because people don't like what they're saying. As for being ignored, neither the company, nor games journalists, nor the whiny, reactionary people who want nothing more than to tell everyone to shut up seem to be ignoring it. Ubisoft's responding, journalists are writing, and whiny reactionary people are whining and telling everyone how unimportant this is and how everyone should shut up. Everyone seems very bad at ignoring it.

And I'll believe you once EA puts out a Madden that ISN'T just a $60 roster update, Ubisoft...

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