Ubisoft have conceded they “must do better” to create an “inclusive and safe environment for our teams, players, and communities”, following multiple allegations of sexual abuse, workplace harrassment and violence, and more against numerous employees. The company claim they will investigate accusations, and discipline people as necessary. Amongst this, the creative director of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has stepped down following an allegation about his personal life.
The past week has seen an outpouring of allegations of sexual harrassment, sexual assault, predatory behaviour, physical violence, abuse, bullying, discrimination, and more against dozens of video game steamers, YouTubers, developers, and press. As more speak, more feel emboldened to speak themselves, with some allegations going back years. It has been a mass public venting of grievances that communities and fanbases.
Allegations against Ubisoft staff in workplaces and at events came from both colleagues and members of the public. One marketing manager was accused of rape. One creative director was accused of choking a female employee. Another PR person was accused of being a sexual predator. Several former Ubisoft employees said they were harassed and bullied at work. A former Ubisoft Sofia employee said the studio was rife with racist and homophobic jokes. These are only some of the allegations. Several complained that Ubisoft HR seemed to do nothing about it.
The accusation against AC Valhalla’s creative director is less severe than many, to be clear, and relates to an extramarital affair. In a statement on his now-deleted Twitter account, Motherboard report, he apologised and said “I am stepping down from my beloved project to properly deal with the personal issues in my life. The lives of my family and my own are shattered.” Ubisoft confirmed that he was taking a leave of absence.
Without addressing or admitting any specific allegations, Ubisoft have apologised and said they wish to change.
“We want to start by apologising to everyone affected by this – we are truly sorry. We are dedicated to creating an inclusive and safe environment for our teams, players, and communities. It is clear we have fallen short of this in the past. We must do better,” they said in Thursday’s statement.
“We have started by launching investigations into the allegations with the support of specialised external consultants. Based on the outcomes, we are fully committed to taking any and all appropriate disciplinary action. As these investigations are ongoing, we can’t comment further. We are also auditing our existing policies, processes, and systems to understand where these have broken down, and to ensure we can better prevent, detect, and punish inappropriate behaviour.”
Now they have to actually do it. Public statements mean nothing. Change takes serious effort and a willingness to upend their established order.
League Of Legends developers Riot Games vowed to clean up their act following 2018’s revelations of workplace discrimination and harrassment. They’ve talked a lot about their changes since then, and some of of their intentions sound genuinely good. At the same time, Riot have made statements brushing over the past. The punishment for one executive accused of humping colleagues, farting in their face, and hitting their genitals was reportedly only training and two months’ unpaid leave. And it took a staff walkout for them to finally settle a discrimination lawsuit they had tried to shut down. Only this month, an executive (who’s since left) brought shame on them again with a vile Facebook post about the killing of George Floyd. And this is from a company who’ve loudly and clearly stated an intent to change and put millions of dollars into related causes. What’ve you got, Ubisoft?