Ubisoft boss draws fire for comments about ‘friction’ in game development

Ubisoft boss and co-founder Yves Guillemot raised eyebrows for his comments about the need for “a little friction” in game development.

Referring to his company’s workplace harassment and toxicity issues, highlighted by a number of employees since the summer of 2020, Guillemot told La Presse that Ubisoft had “progressed at a good pace” in managing its problems – but that “creating a video game is not easy” and sometimes creates “a lot of tension”.

“Techniques must be put in place so that everyone can find their place,” continued Guillemot, now referring to the gaming industry in general. “To create, you need a little friction, because everyone must succeed in getting their idea across. It’s a job that pays a lot when you succeed, but it’s difficult.”

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The remarks were criticized for appearing to accept a need for “friction” between employees during the game’s development – at a time when Ubisoft is still trying to fix its workplace issues.

Guillemot has since offered a further explanation of his response, first posted by Kotaku, in which he began by stating that there was “absolutely no room for toxicity at Ubisoft or in our industry.”

“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,” Guillemot said.

“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.”

Guillemot concludes by stating that Ubisoft has made progress, that its latest employee surveys bear witness to this and that the creation of “healthy and respectful work environments [is] our top priority.”

In a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Guillemot said the same – that it was “a company that can be proud of itself” but “can always do better”.

But ahead of Ubisoft’s recent celebrations for Assassin’s Creed’s 15th anniversary, a group of fans with close ties to the series’ development claimed that some staff members who faced scandal – or protected such people – remained with the company.

“Ubisoft takes all allegations very seriously,” Guillemot said in response to this. “While I cannot comment on specific cases, I can assure you that any team member who has been named in a report and remains with Ubisoft has had their case thoroughly reviewed and has either been cleared or appropriately disciplined and given an individualized action plan to support and monitor their progress.”