Updated Jul 28, 2021 - Economy

Ubisoft workers demand company accountability in open letter

People attending a Ubisoft booth at  a gaming convention

Photo: Frederic Brown / Getty Images

Close to 500 current and former employees of “Assassin’s Creed” publisher Ubisoft are standing in solidarity with protesting game developers at Activision Blizzard with a letter that criticizes their company's handling of sexual misconduct.

Why it matters: Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard workers are framing the actions as part of a bigger movement meant to have lasting change in the industry and its culture.

Driving the news: In the open letter shared with Axios, Ubisoft organizers directly address Activision Blizzard workers, who are expected to stage a walkout Wednesday, amid the fallout from California’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over harassment and discrimination at the company.

  • "We believe you, we stand with you and support you," the Ubisoft workers write.
  • "It should no longer be a surprise to anyone: employees, executives, journalists, or fans that these heinous acts are going on. It is time to stop being shocked. We must demand real steps be taken to prevent them. Those responsible must be held accountable for their actions."
  • Organizers say the letter’s signatories come from 32 of Ubisoft’s studios in Asia, Europe and North America. It will be sent to company management, including CEO Yves Guillemot.

Details: The Ubisoft group says it is frustrated by the company’s actions since last summer’s cascade of accounts about sexual misconduct and toxic working conditions at many studios.

  • "We have stood by and watched as you fired only the most public offenders. You let the rest either resign or worse, promoted them, moved them from studio to studio, team to team, giving them second chance after second chance with no repercussions. This cycle needs to stop."
  • The workers call for "a seat at the table when it comes to deciding how to move forward from here."

Ubisoft dismissed or parted ways last year with several senior men at the company who were accused of misconduct, including its chief creative officer.

  • Officials have pointed to the appointment of new executives responsible for diversity and anti-harassment initiatives and the revision and enforcement of its code of conduct as concrete actions over the past year.
  • But developers at the company have told Axios and other outlets they don’t feel the company’s culture has fundamentally changed.

What they're saying: "We want to be very clear that we take this letter — and the issues it raises — very seriously," a Ubisoft representative told Axios.

  • The company says many changes over the last year have been driven by employee feedback.
  • "We absolutely stand behind these efforts and the positive impact they have had on our company culture while also recognizing that we must continue to engage with our employees to ensure we are creating a workplace where they feel valued, supported, and most importantly, safe," the rep added.

What’s next: The Ubisoft letter proposes that Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard and other top publishers and developers work together to "set of rules and processes for handling reports of these offences."

  • "This collaboration must heavily involve employees in non-management positions and union representatives. This is essential to ensure that those who are directly affected by these behaviours are leading the change."
  • In their own statement earlier Wednesday, Activision Blizzard workers said their walkout was not a "one time event that our leaders can ignore." Instead, they described it as "the beginning of an enduring movement in favor of better labor conditions for all employees."

Go deeper:

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include Ubisoft's statement.

Go deeper