To say that Ubisoft has been in damage control mode lately would be the understatement of the century.
The game development studio responsible for Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia has been under fire for a slew of accusations hurled at some of their senior executives and game developers.
On top of that, there have been reports of the company refusing to focus on female protagonists over the years because, allegedly according to some Ubisoft higher ups, “women don’t sell.”
Then, when it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse, Ubisoft had to remove an image of a black fist from a Tom Clancy mobile game because it appeared to be a shot against the Black Lives Matter movement, painting its supporters as villains.
Prior to its Ubisoft Forward event, where the company was set to make a number of announcements, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot appeared on the company’s official Twitter account to issue an apology and promise on behalf of the company to do better in the future.
— Ubisoft (@Ubisoft) September 10, 2020
“Before we start, I’d like to say a few words about internal issues that have come to light recently,” Guillemot said. “This summer, we learned that certain Ubisoft employees did not uphold our company’s values and that our systems failed to protect the victims of their behavior. I am truly sorry to everyone who was hurt. We have taken significant steps to remove or sanction all those who violated our values and code of conduct, and we are working hard to improve our systems and processes.”
While the CEO did not name any names, it was clear to everyone who he was referring to. These controversies led to the resignations of editorial chief executive Serge Hascoet and editorial vice president Maxime Beland. The director of the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Ashraf Ismail, was also terminated from the company along with the VP of editorial and creative services Tommy Francois.
He also stated that Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad should not have allowed the black fist to be a symbol of an enemy faction. He referred to it as an oversight and stated that it could not be allowed to happen again in the future.
“Ubisoft stands for equality and respect for all,” Guillemot said, when he started to refer to the black fist controversy. “We condemn anyone using our games as a proxy for hate or toxicity. We fully support the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Guillemot noted that the company was striving to create a more diverse atmosphere, making a $1 million investment in a graduate hiring program specifically aimed at encouraging people of color and women to join the Ubisoft team.
“I am fully committed to leading the change at Ubisoft and to ensuring we always uphold and exemplify our core values, in the company, in the industry, in the community, and in our games,” he said. “I’ve always believed that great games have the power to bring people together, and provide an outlet for self-expression and growth. This is essential now more than ever.”