In recent weeks, most of our attention has been on the woeful state of Ubisoft’s development pipeline, with numerous games from Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora to various F2P titles being delayed or outright canceled. That said, it behooves us to continue to pay attention to the company’s behind-the-scenes workplace issues, which are no doubt having a direct effect on the publisher’s current struggles to actually get games out the door.
Last year, following toxic workplace and sexual harassment allegations against Activision Blizzard, many of which mirrored stories we’d already heard about Ubisoft, an open letter written by the "A Better Ubisoft" collective and signed by over 500 current and former employees of the company was released. The letter called for concrete action from Ubisoft management, listing a series of demands, none of which were outrageous or unrealistic. These demands were…
- Stop promoting and moving known offenders from studio to studio, team to team, without repercussions. This cycle needs to end.
- We want a collective seat at the table, to have a meaningful say in how Ubisoft as a company moves forward from here.
- Cross-industry collaboration to agree on a set of ground rules and processes that all studios can use to handle offenses in the future.
- This collaboration must heavily involve employees in non-management positions and union representatives.
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot responded to the letter, saying he took the issues it raised seriously, but a year removed, A Better Ubisoft claims none of their demands have been addressed. According to A Better Ubisoft, 25 percent of the people who signed the 2021 letter have quit. 39 percent of those who quit were women, and 1 percent were non-binary, when non-male devs only make up around 25 percent of the industry. In other words, women have been quitting the company at a disproportionate rate. Ubisoft’s talent-retention woes are not anything new, as they already had to raise pay at their Canadian studios to retain staff. That said, new budget cuts and French-language laws in Quebec, when combined with ongoing workplace toxicity issues, will likely contribute to ongoing losses.
Hopefully, Ubisoft makes a better effort to address their cultural issues in the future, but considering the many fires the company is dealing with, I’m not that optimistic.