We may be in 2020 but selling a game with a woman on the cover is still a problem. This fact has been proven in the past and one of the companies that makes it clear from time to time is Ubisoft, specifically with the Assassin’s Creed franchise, which is now in this situation again after the announcement of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
Journalist Stephen Totilo was interviewing creative director Ashraf Ismail in Kotaku about many of the game’s key elements. At a certain point in the interview, he was trying to ask about a possible fear of negative reactions if they decided to promote Assassin’s Creed Valhalla using the female version of Eivor as the main character.
“I think that’s kind of a question and answer, if that’s okay with you, Stephen”, Ubisoft’s public relations suddenly answered without giving the manager the opportunity to answer what he thought or knew on the subject. After that, Totilo says that the representative in question assured him that the company would contact him if they decided to talk about that theme.
The type of intervention and the response is given make it clear that it remains problematic for Ubisoft and any other company in the industry to put a woman at the forefront of a renowned franchise.
There’s no problem watching new adventures like Horizon: Zero Dawn starring characters like Aloy (there really is one) or time-honored heroines returning to action like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, but the comments from “please women no”Hundreds could be read during the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla launch event and in the days that followed, making it clear that the problem is still very much present.
Video game PR strategy: *sucks in teeth* “Yeeeeah oooh jeeez I’m not sure we can allow discussion of…women”
— David Rayfield (@RaygunBrown) May 19, 2020
We already saw similar situations when Ubisoft started in Assassin’s Creed 3 times that they had no female leads because they were much more difficult to animate. Or when Assassin’s Creed Odyssey relegated Kassandra to the background in promoting the game and reversing the cover despite the story being written for her.