Gamasutra – Ubisoft staff claim publisher has ‘sidelined’ their demands and ‘continues to protect known offenders’

Ubisoft staff claim the French publisher “continues to protect and promote known offenders,” and suggest the company has “sidelined” the demand of workers trying to change the company’s toxic workplace culture for the better. 

“The majority of our demands were sidelined and few of our points have been addressed,” said a current Ubisoft employee, speaking to Eurogamer about the company’s attempts to implement reforms. “Ubisoft continues to protect and promote known offenders and their allies. We see management continuing to avoid this issue.”

Those comments are in response to an internal email sent out by Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, which was itself a response to a letter signed by swathes of current and former Ubisoft staff accusing the French publisher of not doing enough to address the “widespread and deeply ingrained culture of abusive behavior within the industry.”

Guillemot’s email, shared on Twitter by Axios reported Stephen Totilo, reiterated the company’s “commitment to creating real and lasting change at Ubisoft,” and highlighted a number of steps it has taken after several high-profile staff members were accused of bullying and harassment. 

“Since last summer we have implemented new anonymous reporting tools, revamped our HR processes including new global policies to prevent and manage discrimination, retaliation, harassment, installed a new code of conduct, rolled out mandatory training, established a content review group and are bringing in new leadership across major studios, HR, D&I, Editorial and Production,” reads the email. 

“We have heard clearly from this letter that not everyone is confident in the processes that have been put in place to manage misconduct reports. This is a top priority for [chief people officer] Anika, who continues to ensue they are robust and independent. In addition to our current processes, we are currently recruiting a new VP Global Employee Relations.”

In the email, Guillemot says they have “always valued free expression at Ubisoft,” and pitches that mantra as the “key” to solving the company’s systemic cultural issues. 

Still, it’s clear many staff feel the Assassin’s Creed maker needs to do more than offer what some perceive to be empty platitudes. In the letter sent out earlier this week, Ubisoft employees — who also showed support for protesting developers at Activision Blizzard — said the company wasn’t doing nearly enough to root out abusers. 

“You need to do more,” the letter told Ubisoft management. “That does not mean more training sessions that go ignored by the people who need them most, and that does not mean more re-assurances and kind words. It means real, impactful action. The only way to fix something so ingrained is the remove the pillars that are complicit with it, be it by actively taking part or by supporting it.”

Ubisoft was accused by those current and former employees who signed the letter of only firing the “most public offenders” while letting others resign. It’s also claimed the company protected some abusers by moving them “from studio to studio, team to team, giving them second chance after second chance with no repercussions.”

Last year, an extensive report published by Gamasutra found the cycle of abuse and misconduct ran deep at Ubisoft, with over a dozen former and current Ubisoft employees explaining how the company had spent years building its workplace culture on a bedrock of toxicity and deniability.

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