Jan 30, 2023 - Technology

Ubisoft workers in Paris hold strike amid company turmoil

Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Screenshot: Ubisoft

Approximately 40 workers at Ubisoft’s Paris studio gathered Friday afternoon to strike for the rest of the day, a worker who attended the meeting tells Axios.

Why it matters: It was the first labor stoppage of its kind at the embattled publisher of Assassin’s Creed and Just Dance.

  • Workers began gathering in the studio’s cafeteria around 1pm for a group discussion about the state of the company, the pressures of intense development cycles, and how to coordinate actions to resist policies that can overwork developers.  
  • The "main topic was mostly around 'what's next,'" the attendee who spoke anonymously for fear of retaliation said. "What will we face in the next 18-24 months will be hard."
  • In a shared statement, the workers told Axios that recent development cycles for Ubisoft Paris productions, including Just Dance and Ghost Recon, had led to developer burnout.
  • The attendee estimated the turnout constituted more than 15% of the development studio, where series such as Ghost Recon are developed. (It is not to be confused with Ubisoft’s nearby corporate headquarters.)

Catch-up quick: Organizers at French trade union Solidaires Informatique called for the afternoon strike this month, saying company CEO Yves Guillemot “is trying to shift the blame” for Ubisoft's financial struggles.

  • Ubisoft announced on Jan. 11 that it was canceling three more games and looking for $200 million in cost reductions in the next two years.
  • Guillemot also sent a memo to the company’s thousands of workers saying that “the ball is in your court” to hit deadlines and help the company turn things around.
  • Guillemot later apologized to staffers for that remark, acknowledging that management was also responsible, Kotaku reported.

Between the lines: The Ubisoft Paris strike was conducted as a group strategy discussion, not a protest.

The bottom line: “This strike has helped build the next strikes to come,” said the attendee in Paris.

  • “If Ubisoft management doesn't want to hear from us, they might understand that it's the workers who decide when games are released."
  • A spokesperson for Ubisoft declined to comment on the strike.

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