As Ubisoft work through their process of investigating allegations into sexual abuse, harrassment and general misconduct, a fresh wave of allegations have surfaced against senior staff at the publisher.
However, in a sign that things are progressing, if slowly, Ashraf Ismail, the creative director of several highly regarded Assassin’s Creed games, has now actually been fired after previously stepping down from his role on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
Ismail originally stepped down in June after allegations were made into his personal life, however multiple women then forward to claim that he had more systematically hidden the fact that he was married while being in a relationship with them.
An email sent internally within Ubisoft Montreal was obtained by Kotaku and read, “Following an investigation by an external firm, it was determined that Ashraf’s employment with Ubisoft had to be terminated. We cannot provide any details about this confidential investigation.”
If Ubisoft hoped to draw a line under the allegations at some point, that does not seem likely any time soon. Gamasutra has published a report based off the anonymous accounts (for fear of reprisals) of a number of Ubisoft staff, making allegations of abuse against Assassin’s Creed Odyssey creative director Jonathan Dumont at Ubisoft Quebec.
One source said, “He is very narcissistic and overall a major bully. [He] pushes people to the edge of their mental health regularly, and tries to justify his behavior by saying ‘this is how you get things done.’ [He makes] various misogynistic and homophobic comments, and when he’s called out on them will come out with defenses like ‘my mother left my father when she realized she was a lesbian, so I know what I am talking about.'”
Gods & Monsters quest director Hugo Giard and associate producer Sephane Mehay are also accused of similar behaviours, seeming to bully and pressurise other Ubisoft employees with aggressive behaviour.
Executive producer and former creative director at Quebec, Marc-Alexis Cote is alleged to have enabled this behaviour, while also manipulating employees to compete against each other, and alternating between praise and insults. One person claimed Cote has a “direct line to Yves [Guillemot] and Serge [Hascoet]” that allowed him to protect those who were known for toxicity.
And that’s just Quebec. Gamasutra’s report also explores allegations at Ubisoft Singapore and Montreal, showing just how widespread the issues are within Ubisoft.
Ubisoft have made positive moves publicly, restructuring the Editorial Team, launching investigations, and opening up new posts to try to champion diversity within the company. The concern, of course, is that CEO Yves Guillemot is saving his own skin with these moves and that, having been CEO for such a long time, he must have been aware of or intentionally blind to what was going on at the company.
Former Ubisoft Quebec narrative designer Jill Murray said to Gamasutra, “Real change at Ubisoft has to happen from the ground up and the top down, and it needs to be transparent. Empower employees. Remove business-as-usual executives. Yves Guillemot can’t pretend to want change, while installing his cousin [Christophe Derennes] as CEO in Montreal.”
Ubisoft and those accused in the report declined to comment, though the publisher reiterated their intention to investigate allegations that are made.