Ubisoft game designers express a mix of desperation and defiant hope when talking about their company’s attempts to reform.
Driving the news: Several of these workers spoke to Axios in Paris last week in meetings away from the company’s headquarters.
Why is this important: Over the past two years, Ubisoft has witnessed a series of workplace misconduct allegations, the departure of several men accused of toxic management or sexual misconduct, and a restructuring of human resources. and the company’s top creative teams combined with wishes from leaders to do better. Some employees say it’s not enough.
What they say : “It is not the bullies who create a toxic culture. It’s a toxic culture that produces stalkers,” Ubisoft game designer Marc Rutschlé said during a meeting at the office of the French tech workers’ union Solidaires Informatique.
- A four-year veteran of Ubisoft’s Paris office, he says ousting some problematic people from the company has helped, but he wants more structural change – more women in the company, for example, and more transparency on investigations.
- In March 2020, Rutschlé formed a union chapter at Ubisoft’s Paris offices. A year later, the union filed a sexual harassment complaint against the company, accusing current and former leaders of harassment or allowing it. (Ubisoft does not comment on disputes, a representative confirmed.)
- The trial, inspired by a successful “moral harassment” action against France Telecom, is expected to take five years or more to unfold.
- “We want explanations,” says Rutschlé. “Toxic people who have left the company, because a large part of them have just left and have not been fired, have never given an explanation for their behavior. This will be an opportunity to hear from them , before a court.”
Transparency is a big concern for Ubisoft employees around the world, several of whom emailed Axios about their experiences.
- “I find it difficult to assess the truth,” said one developer.
- “The only issue I consider resolved is that people within Ubisoft are aware of the issues,” said another. “Not because of management, but because of the brave employees who spoke up and continue to speak out.”
In Paris, a former Ubisoft employee told Axios that they felt good about Ubisoft, but left as morale plummeted after the misconduct scandals.
- “What used to be a big smile on people’s faces when I told them I worked at Ubisoft turned into a weird, apologetic face,” the employee said. “That pride really united the people who worked there, and now it seems to be gone for a lot of people.”
Some Ubisoft employees cited improvementscrediting local thought leaders at Ubisoft’s global studios away from the Paris headquarters.
- “Morale varies greatly from team to team, in my experience, even within the same studio,” said one developer.
- Some are voicing their hope in the company’s growing diversity and inclusion team, which reviews Ubisoft’s game workforce and content.
- But workers also report that some reforms are failing. “All of the recent additional training on harassment, abuse, and D&I has taught managers how to say the right things (or at least not say the wrong things) and appear do the right thing,” said one. “But in my experience, much of the change is superficial.”
Management’s point of view: Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot told Axios in Paris that he was aware of the continued frustration among workers and appreciated the feedback.
- “It’s good to hear from people if there are other issues that haven’t been resolved.”
Yes, but some workers feel management is too eager to talk about other things.
- According to Ruschlé: “Today, the company wants to turn the media page, with an ease that is not within the reach of the group’s victims, who have been lastingly marked both in their careers and psychologically.”
Go further: Interview: Ubisoft CEO on company scandals and reform attempts
Sign up for the Axios Gaming newsletter here.