In stark contrast to the Ubisoft Forward stream held in July, CEO Yves Guillemot has directly addressed the flood of shocking allegations made this summer against a number of Ubisoft employees and executives, and the actions the company has taken since then.
“This summer, we learned that certain Ubisoft employees did not uphold our company’s values,” Guillemot said, “and that our systems failed to protect the victims of their behaviour. I am truly sorry to everyone who was hurt.
“We have taken significant steps to remove or sanction those who violated our values and code of conduct, and we are working heard to improve our systems and processes. We are also focussed on improving diversity and inclusivity at all levels of the company.”
He continued, “We are at the start of a long journey. Real change will take time, but I’m determined to do everything in my power to ensure everyone at Ubisoft feels welcome, respected and safe.”
It’s true that the company has taken steps in the last few months, removing Tommy François, Maxime Béland, Serge Hascoët, Ashraf Ismail and other Ubisoft executives for after allegations of varying severity were levied against them. However, further allegations were made in August which have not yet been publicly addressed, as Ubisoft deal with these matters internally with the help of third parties.
Also in the last month Ubisoft released Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad on mobile and then removed imagery of a raised black fist, at a time where such imagery in combination with the actions within the game played too closely to the Black Lives Matter movement that rose to protest the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement. The studio behind it? The one run by Yves Guillemot’s son Charlie Guillemot who was awarded a high ranking role right out of uni. Cool.
Guillemot addressed this as well. “One of our recent mobile games included content that was inappropriate. This kind of oversight cannot happen. We are putting in place safeguards to prevent it in the future. We condemn anyone using our games as a proxy for hate or toxicity. We fully support the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Ubisoft are putting more funds into their graduate programme, looking to increase diversity within their studios, and also donating to the NAACP legal defence fund.
Ubisoft are publicly making steps forward, and Guillemot making these statements and taking various actions is positive, but there is still a concern that systemic issues will remain for a long time to come. It’s difficult to believe that Guillemot was not personally aware of at least some of the transgressions that occurred, and allegations went years without being addressed internally until they were made public. We’ll have to wait and see if and how the company can truly make changes over the coming weeks, months and years.