It's been one year since Ubisoft employees demanded the company acknowledge their demands and stop promoting known abusers. Unfortunately, employees say the company is still ignoring them and that very little is changing within the studio.
What do Ubisoft employees say about the company's attitude towards them?
Last July, Ubisoft employees made four key demands of management: stop promoting abusers, give employees a seat at the table, agree with other studios on a set of ground rules to prevent abuse, and involve employees and union reps in the creation of those rules. In October of that same year, Ubisoft workers said the company was doing little to honor those demands and put an end to its toxic workplace culture. Now, a year to the day since those demands were originally met, Ubisoft employees say the company is still failing to meet their demands.
Speaking via Twitter, workers' collective A Better Ubisoft shared some disquieting statistics regarding Ubisoft employee counts. The collective says that 25% of the employees who signed last year's open letter have now quit Ubisoft to work elsewhere. Of the employees who quit, 60% use he/him pronouns, 39% use she/her pronouns, and 1% use they/them pronouns. However, women represent only 25.4% of the global Ubisoft workforce, which means that female employees who signed the letter are quitting the company disproportionately. If the Ubisoft employees are to be believed, it's clear there are still some serious structural problems here that Ubisoft isn't addressing.
The Ubisoft saga is part of a wider industry problem
Of course, it's not just Ubisoft that has been accused of fostering a toxic workplace culture. The most high-profile example of a company with problems like these is Activision Blizzard, which has been hit by multiple accusations of endemic harassment and investigated by state regulators as a result (although it claims there's no evidence its executives ignored this harassment). It's not just AAA companies, either; accusations have also been leveled at indie darlings like Fullbright and Lab Zero founder Mike Zaimont. Is this a moment of reckoning for the industry? It's hard to say; while more employees are certainly speaking out about these issues, if studios like Ubisoft aren't doing anything about them, then it's easy to have a grim outlook regarding the long-term prospects of abuse being reckoned with by the gaming industry.
We'll have to wait and see if this latest assertion by Ubisoft employees of the company's inaction has any kind of positive effect. Given that Ubisoft doesn't seem eager to put paid to the problem (despite its own assertions that it's doing just that), it looks like a lot more work will be required before the industry is ready to face up to this problem in full. With that said, there is some light at the end of the tunnel here, however much of a pinprick it may be. A $100 million gender discrimination suit against Riot Games was recently settled in favor of the plaintiffs, representing a major win for women at Riot and for the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. It's also worth noting that Grand Theft Auto 6 developer Rockstar has apparently made some sweeping changes to the way it approaches harassment and crunch, prioritizing employee health and changing the way GTA 6 is being developed as a result. There are reasons to be cautiously optimistic, but that doesn't mean everything is fixed. We'll just have to wait and see.