A report on the recent outpouring of sexual misconduct claims against various Ubisoft employees has revealed that the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey team intended for Kassandra to be the game’s sole, canon protagonist, until company executives forced the addition of Alexios in an attempt to make the game more marketable.
Former Kotaku and current Bloomberg News reporter Jason Schreier authored a recent article exploring the “More than a dozen […] public claims of sexual harassment and abuse against employees of Ubisoft over the past few weeks,” such as the promotion of “an atmosphere that was hostile toward women” and rampant use of “misogynist or racist” language.
Current and former employees claim that this culture had a prominent effect on the development of Assassin’s Creed titles.
Two employees who worked on Assassin’s Creed Origins noted Bayek, the player character featured in the final version of Origins, was set to be injured or killed off early in the story, which would have led to players taking control of his wife, Aya, for the remainder of the game.
A similar development cycle would unfold for Assassin’s Creedy Odyssey.
Originally, Kassandra was featured as Odyssey’s only playable character. However, this was changed when the team was told that putting Kassandra in the lead role ‘wasn’t an option.’
According to those who worked on the title, this edit was handed down from Ubisoft’s marketing department and recently-ousted Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoët, ”both of whom suggested female protagonists wouldn’t sell.”
Responding to the wave of sexual misconduct allegations, Ubisoft has begun to take swift and decisive action towards improving it’s company culture, including the removal of Hascoët and the “heads of HR and the Canadian studios.”
In 2018, Ubisoft Director Scott Philips expressed his “shock” at statistics which showed that two-thirds of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey players chose to play as Alexios over Kassandra.