Don't take this as a attack on 2D games. I love them, but I just wanted to encourege discussion. Animation is key as well but with Ubisoft they use many different techniques to generate those animations. the new torque engine allows it to make a character put it's arm and lean against nearby objects. This automates the animations creation yet is counted to the animation count. Also when you rig a character you rig each part so that you can transfer animations to each part of the character independently.
And example of this would be a character in a run cycle. 1 animation
then keep that run cycle but change the left arm to a swing animation, 2 animations. Now keep that run and swing animation and make the right arm swing as well 3 animations. Now turn off the left arms swing and you have a 4th animation.
All these animations are combined to give a huge number but in reality there are only a few. There is still alot of animations but 3,000+ is getting your hopes up. It is 3,000 total not 3,000 independent animations. The process is simple but by merging a full body run cycle and a full body attack cycle you can generate 5 or 6 animations when you really only have 2.