Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was originally only going to feature Kassandra as the sole protagonist but was scrapped by Ubisoft.
According to an explosive report from Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey would have been a different game were it not for the intervention of former Ubisoft Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoet. Hascoet resigned from the company on July 12 after multiple allegations of abuse and inappropriate behavior were levied towards him and other top Ubisoft executives. Ultimately, this meant a sidelining of female protagonists in controversial business moves.
As Chief Creative Officer, Hascoet had power over essentially all major Ubisoft titles, including The Division, Watch Dogs, and Assassin’s Creed. However, allegedly the problematic culture that Hascoet often created at Ubisoft often bled into these games, leading to an emphasis on male main characters. Schreier’s report lists the effects Hascoet has had on the development of Assassin’s Creed Unity, Syndicate, and Origins, all of which boils down to downplaying or outright cutting out any playable female protagonists.
When it came time to work on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the game’s team had originally been shooting for Kassandra to be the game’s only protagonist. According to Schreier’s report, the team was then told that “that wasn’t an option.” This opinion was reportedly prevalent at Ubisoft, coming from both the company’s marketing department or Hascoet, along with the belief that “female protagonists wouldn’t sell.”
Besides being blatantly sexist, this claim from both Ubisoft’s marketing department and its former Cheif Creative Officer Serge Hascoet are flat-out wrong. They ignore the success of other series with female leads. Schreier cites Tomb Raider and Horizon Zero Dawn, although that list barely scratches the surface. Celeste, Metroid, and some titles in the Resident Evil franchise are all celebrated titles with female protagonists. It simply goes to show that Hascoet and Ubisoft at large have been out of touch with the gaming world.
Over the past few weeks I’ve talked to more than 40 current and former Ubisoft employees about sexual misconduct and abuse allegations. Their accounts make one thing clear: Ubisoft has known about these problems for years. My new story: https://t.co/MFIfbOewZ0
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) July 21, 2020
Since the resignations of Hascoet, along with two other Ubisoft executives, the company has repeatedly promised to change its internal culture. Ahead of the past Ubisoft Forward, the company displayed a message stating “We still have significant work to do and are committed to this process.”
Looking ahead at the Assassin’s Creed series, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is Ubisoft’s next offering — featuring another set of male and female protagonists. The title is set to release later in 2020 on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia; it will follow suit on the PS5 and Xbox Series X following the launch of next-gen systems. Fans of the series can grab the physical edition of the game on Amazon to help support DualShockers.
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