Alex Amancio, Ubisoft creative director, as quoted by Polygon:
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.
Because of that, the common denominator was Arno. 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.
How was this not mapped out in pre-production?
UPDATE: The Internet is ablaze. The sad part is that this title will still rake in millions, likely billions. We continue to give time to a developer that does not give time to its audience or games. If it’s not ready, don’t ship.
Paul Tassi, writing for Forbes, on the 2013 Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag announcement:
I like the Assassin’s Creed series, but indefinite annual releases could prove to be too much of a good thing. Of course, this is asking a company to choose the artistic integrity and quality of its series over money, which in this day and age almost never happens. Ubisoft seems to think they can maintain both, but that seems like a hard bet to take.
I’ve said my piece on Twitter but I’ll repeat: If you subscribe to the idea that it’s just a game, great. Include diversity. If you subscribe to the idea that video games influence behavior, great. Include diversity. If you subscribe to the idea that production time ran out, delay. Include diversity.
Whatever angle you approach this from, whatever lens you look through, there is no good excuse for a AAA game co-developed by ten studios and arguably the most successful video game developer and publisher in the world not to include diversity in a game-mode dependent on diversity.
Official statement from Ubisoft to Kotaku:
We recognize the valid concern around diversity in video game narrative. 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.
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.
This statement feels pretty vapid.