Assassin's Creed: Unity won't offer playable female assassins, but does feature "strong female characters," Ubisoft has said in a statement following widespread criticism about the lack of female playable characters in the upcoming open-worlder.

Earlier this week technical director James Therien told VideoGamer that playable female characters were "on our feature list until not too long ago, but it's a question of focus and production".

"A female character means that you have to redo a lot of animation, a lot of costumes," he added. "It would have doubled the work on those things. And I mean it's something the team really wanted, but we had to make a decision... It's unfortunate, but it's a reality of game development."

Ubisoft issued a statement on the issue to Kotaku:

"We recognise 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."

One person convinced Ubisoft could implement female assassins without much issue is Naughty Dog animator Jonathan Cooper, who Tweeted:

"In my educated opinion, I would estimate this to be a day or two's work. Not a replacement of 8000 animations."

Cooper should know better than many because he was animation director on Assassin's Creed III, and animation lead on Mass Effect 1 and 2.

He added that "Walk/run cycles and idles are the easiest way to define a character. Everything else is androgynous. See AC: Liberation...

"Also see FemShep."

Source: Kotaku, @GameAnim

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