Ubisoft Projects Reportedly Stalled or Slowed by Talent “Exodus” at Canadian Studios
Ubisoft has had a run of rough PR over the past couple years, with a company-wide reckoning with workplace discrimination and harassment, ill-received flirtation with NFTs, and numerous delays and unpolished releases combining to sully the publisher’s reputation. Well, unsurprisingly, it seems these issues are making some people not want to work at the company anymore.
We’ve already seen evidence of this, as Ubisoft recently announced pay raises for all employees at their Canadian studios. This move didn’t come out of the blue – according to a new insider report from Axios, Ubisoft studios, particularly those located in Canada, are in the midst of what some devs are calling “ the great exodus.” Combined, Ubisoft Montreal (Rainbow Six Siege, Assassin’s Creed) and Ubisoft Toronto (Far Cry) have lost at least 120 employees in the last six months. And that’s just the names Axios could track via LinkedIn -- the real number is likely higher. These departures include top talent – 5 of the top 25 devs who worked on Far Cry 6 have already left, while 12 of the top 50 who worked on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla are now gone. The leaking of talent has apparently had an impact on development, with sources reporting projects have stalled or slowed due a lack of staff.
As for why people are leaving, a number of reasons are cited, including the handling of toxic workplace allegations, the company’s creative direction, and low pay. Ultimately though, the main factor may just be competition, as it seems everybody that’s anybody is setting up a studio in the Montreal area, and they’re willing to pay big to get key talent.
For their part, Ubisoft insists the recent raises have increased retention by 50 percent. They also claim to have hired more than 2600 new employees since April and that the company’s attrition rate is only 12 percent. Of course, those stats are spread over the whole of Ubisoft, which has over 20,000 employees and 50 studios around the world. If we were to focus on just the Canadian studios that seem most affected by the exodus, the attrition rate would likely be less flattering. Even at 12 percent, the attrition rate is higher than other major companies like EA (9 percent) and Epic Games (7 percent), although the company-wide rate is lower than the also-embattled Activision Blizzard (16 percent).
It will be interesting to see how Ubisoft continues to stay competitive in the increasingly-cutthroat Canadian market. While they’ve clearly already made some moves to make themselves a more appealing destination for talent, it also seems like they may see the writing on the wall and are preparing for a future with trimmed-down staff sizes. Both the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry franchises are reportedly being transformed into Destiny-like live service titles, which would likely be less labor-intensive than putting out entirely-new sequels every couple years. Meanwhile, Ubisoft Toronto is working on a Splinter Cell remake, which will be an old-school linear stealth game, rather than a big open-world title.
What do you think Ubisoft’s future looks like? Will the current trajectory continue, or can the company turn things around?
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