Assassin’s Creed Boss Seems Clueless About Ubisoft’s Toxic Culture

Ubisoft's CEO takes the stage at E3 2017 to reveal Mario + Rabbids.

Photo: Christian Peterson (Getty Images)

In a new interview with The Press, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot seemed to say that toxicity in the games industry stems from the “friction” needed in the creative process. The implication was that it was almost inevitable. Two years later a workplace for sexual harassment, misconduct and insulting the editor behind Assassin’s Creed and Far cry, it sounded tone-deaf at best, and at worst like an endorsement of the infighting between the development teams. When asked for clarification, Ubisoft provided Kotaku with a more detailed explanation from the CEO.

“I want to be clear, as I’ve said before, there is absolutely no room for toxicity at Ubisoft or in our industry,” Guillemot wrote in a statement. “When I mentioned that there was sometimes friction, I was thinking of the creative tension that is common and vital in innovative companies like ours, where people have the freedom to challenge ideas and have heated debates. but healthy.”

He continued:

To prevent this tension from turning negative, or to address it if it does, this is where strong corresponding policies, values ​​and procedures are essential. During the last two[a]-Half a year, we’ve made a lot of progress on this front to deliver safe and great experiences for all of our teams. Healthy and respectful work environments are our top priority and we are happy to say that according to our latest surveys, our team members are reassured that we are on the right track.

“Heated but healthy” is at the heart of some of the biggest complaints from some current and former Ubisoft employees. Those Kotaku spoke with often described an atmosphere in some studios that seemed to reward bullies while ostracizing the less institutionally empowered people who called them out. Whether it’s a manager, design lead, or director, questioning them respectfully or taking a principled stance in a team meeting could bring the dissenting employee postpone a project Where lock down their careers indefinitely.

One of those tyrants would have been Michel Ancelthe designer behind Rayman and the original Beyond Good and Evil who was chosen to direct the sequel. According to a 2020 survey by a French newspaper Release, Ancel was disorganized, made impractical requests, and berated staff when he disliked the work they showed him. Three sources familiar with Beyond Good and Evil 2Ubisoft Montpellier development believed that the claims in the report were accurate and that Ancel’s reputation as a toxic manager was well known within the company.

Do you have any advice on your experience at Ubisoft and how the company is improving or not improving? Email us at [email protected] or you can reach me securely at [email protected].

Did Guillemot know? Release reported which he did, citing a 2017 meeting where, when faced with complaints about Ancel, the CEO allegedly said that Ancel’s stardom in the gaming industry was both helpful for Ubisoft’s public perception, but also made him difficult to manage, and that it would be up to staff reps and HR to protect the people working under him. It wasn’t until the biggest workplace felt that Ancel was investigated and eventually quit in September 2020.

In a recent interview with Axios, Guillemot claimed to be unaware of anyone’s bad behavior. “You realize that things have happened very close to you that you wouldn’t accept if you had known about them,” he said. “You’re upset that this could happen and you haven’t seen it.” But again, the CEO had a controversial response as to why a culture that seemingly encouraged and protected bad actors spread under his watch.

“We weren’t organized enough to detect problems and fix them,” he said. Axios. “The business was working and there were ways to do things. And then there was a new young generation, came [into the company] with different needs. And we had to adapt. I think we didn’t adapt fast enough to what people expected and needed.

The comment, which appeared to blame a workplace that included sexual abuse allegations on a generational divide, was mocked online. Guillemot didn’t attempt to clarify that one, and Ubisoft declined to comment today when Kotaku asked about the pattern of controversial suggestions from the man responsible for leading the publisher’s cultural transformation.