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Photo: Raccoon Logic

One of the most notorious images in games right now is a photo of 20 mostly white male staffers that was included as part of the announcement of a new Montreal game studio called Raccoon Logic.

Why it matters: The photo has become central in the discussion of diversity in game studios and who gets a seat at the table.

  • It first started drawing attention yesterday when Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier tweeted it and noted, "It's pretty wild that in 2021 a new game studio still looks like this."
  • The studio currently employs one woman, who co-founder Alex Hutchison said "unfortunately couldn't make that photo call."
  • It's not quite a grassroots start-up. Studio leadership has worked at Ubisoft, EA and Google. The new group is partially funded by Chinese gaming giant Tencent.

What they're saying: "I can see why people reacted to the picture of the studio the way they did," Hutchinson told Axios.

  • There are "two important caveats," he added, "one being that diversity extends beyond gender, and I'm proud that we have LGBTQ members on our team, but also that this is just Raccoon Logic's starting point, not the endgame."

Between the lines: Hutchinson initially responded to criticism with snark, yesterday calling the initial Schreier tweet "trolling."

  • But the photo elicited sharp reaction on Twitter, where women in the industry shared anecdotes of being a distinct minority in studios where they worked.
  • Hutchinson's critics said the photo sends a message about who Raccoon Logic values having on the team.
  • He says the initial hiring was done prior to outside investment and that the "initial reach-out before the money came in" involved "talking to people we already knew" about jobs.

What's next: Hutchinson says Raccoon Logic has "made a point to interview BIPOC candidates for other positions" and will continue to hire.

  • "It's not hard to grasp that a diversity of opinion and expression — as well as people who have just led different lives and have different life experience — just leads to better games," he said.

Meanwhile, other game studios keep getting announced with limited obvious signs of diversity.

Go deeper

Ubisoft’s “Far Cry” bet

Image: Ubisoft

Mega-publisher Ubisoft is in need of a hit with the launch of today’s “Far Cry 6,” an already-divisive sequel that has the best shot of giving Ubisoft a 2021 blockbuster.

Why it matters: Ubisoft’s workplace issues — its failures and the internal and external efforts to address them — have rightfully gotten a lot of attention in the past year. They exist alongside deep creative problems that raise questions about Ubisoft’s future as a hitmaker.

The E-commerce shopping spree

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Retailers have gotten really good at selling stuff online. So much so, investors want them to separate from the business units that do just that.

Why it matters: Spinning off these crown jewels may jeopardize both the physical and e-commerce sides of the companies in the long run by breaking the benefits of hybrid operations, analysts say.

1 hour ago - World

U.S. envoy to visit Sudan as "most dangerous" crisis intensifies

The sit-in in Khartoum. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty

U.S. envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman will visit Khartoum this week amid what Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has called the “worst and most dangerous" crisis of Sudan’s transition to democracy, two sources with direct knowledge tell Axios.

Driving the news: Roughly 2,000-3,000 people had joined a sit-in in Khartoum as of this afternoon, per Reuters, after protesters massed over the weekend to call on the military to bring down the government. The protests came just four weeks after a failed military coup.

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