Assassin’s Creed Shadows Producer Responds To Backlash Over Yasuke

Assassin’s Creed Shadows Producer Responds To Backlash Over Yasuke

When Ubisoft unveiled Assassin’s Creed Shadows in May, there was backlash directed at the inclusion of Yasuke, the game’s Black samurai co-lead and real-world historical figure. Some argued that the reaction was simply over a matter of what they saw as historical inaccuracy, as they repeated that the real Yasuke was not a true samurai. Others who joined in the backlash made no effort to hide that they were just racists upset at the idea of a Black man starring in a game set in feudal Japan. Ubisoft producer Marc-Alexis Côté talked with Game File about the backlash, and how Yasuke fits into Assassin’s Creed’s historical fiction.

In the interview, Côté recalls how Twitter owner Elon Musk responded to claims that Assassin’s Creed Shadows was some kind of woke mind virus diversity product by saying “DEI kills art.” Côté did not take the claim well.

“That tweet generated emotions, that…the first thing I wanted to do was go back on X—that I had deleted—and just tweet back,” he told Game File. “And I just took a step back. I have a mindfulness app on my phone. And I did a bit of mindfulness to try to explore the emotions that this tweet created. For me, Elon, it’s sad, he’s just feeding hatred. I had a lot of three-word replies that came to mind.”

Côté opted not to respond, explaining to Game File that replying to someone like Musk “will not convince people about [Ubisoft’s] point of view as a team.” Instead, he states here that Yasuke is “very, very grounded in the history of the franchise and how we make our choices.”

Assassin’s Creed has always played with historical figures in its fictional retelling of major moments across time. War criminal Henry Kissinger is even a canonical villain in the franchise. Côté says that Yasuke kept coming up in the team’s research after they had decided on the feudal Japan setting, and his “super-mysterious” history gave Ubisoft lines to fill in with its own take. Apparently Shadows makes its case for Yasuke’s presence in the game (not that one should be needed) within the first 12 minutes.

“What Elon says is not the game that we’re building,” Côté said. “People will have to play the game for themselves. And if, within the first 11 minutes and 47 seconds, they are not convinced of what we’re doing, we can have the discussion. […] I was reviewing the game very recently, and I was like, ‘The answer is there!’ I just hope and wish that people can keep an open mind about this and see the game for what it is. It’s an Assassin’s Creed game, and I believe the best one we’ve ever built.”

You can play those first 12 minutes and a whole lot more when Assassin’s Creed Shadows arrives on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S on November 15.

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