Ubisoft apologises for “unintentionally reinforcing ableism” in ‘Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla’

The studio has promised to remove the game’s problematic language in an update

Ubisoft has issued an apology for its inclusion of ableist language in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.

On Tuesday (November 10), Courtney Craven, founder of gaming accessibility site Can I Play That?, revealed on Twitter that the game had included text describing an enemy’s facial scars from severe burns, and that the character is “terrified someone will see her disfigured face”.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable to talk about facial differences this way. Writers for games and otherwise need to do better,” Craven said.

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Ubisoft has since issued an apology on the matter, and has promised to remove the language from the game through an update. “Thank you so much for pointing this out – we apologize for unintentionally reinforcing ableism through this language. We will remove this language in an upcoming update,” the studio said.

Ubisoft had to release a similar post-launch update in early 2019 for Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey’s Legacy Of The First Blade DLC. The DLC had required players to engage in a heterosexual romance, despite the main game allowing player to choice of pursuing same-sex relationships.

The update implemented the changes accordingly to “better reflect the nature of the relationship for players selecting a non-romantic storyline,” Ubisoft said at the time.

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Watch Dogs: Legion
Watch Dogs: Legion. Credit: Ubisoft

More recently, Ubisoft had announced its intention to remove U.K. journalist Helen Lewis’ contributions to Watch Dogs: Legion, following a long list of her controversial remarks on trans issues being brought to light. Lewis’ in-game role was that of a podcaster, for which she had to follow a script that was approved by the studio.

“While the in-game podcasters are following a pre-approved script and are not speaking in their own name or with their own opinions, we understand this collaboration itself may be seen as offensive and we deeply regret any hurt this has caused,” said Ubisoft in a statement to Kotaku. “In response, we will be replacing these two podcast episodes in an upcoming update and will reinforce our background checks for partners in the future.”

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and Watch Dogs: Legion are both currently available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Google Stadia. The games will arrive on PS5 upon the console’s launch.

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