Several current and former Ubisoft employees have spoken out against the company’s management practices amidst allegations of misconduct, accusing executives of running operations like a “mafia” and burying reports of abuse over the years.
Having verified their identities privately to Gamasutra, the developers explained to the publication how Ubisoft fostered a toxic work culture over the years, which recently came to light after victims took to social media with their accounts of abuse, leading the company to apologize and promise change.
“Reports of abuse would be silenced instantly,” said one employee. “People complain in small groups, but the previously mentioned faux transparency just kills any chance of actual change. It is such a well-functioning system of control, because there is a lot of conversation happening in the company.” Apparently, 9 out of 10 investigations end nowhere.
Another employee claimed that Ubisoft promotes employees based on their willingness to “take a bullet for the family.” Those who don’t play along find their careers and salaries stalled.
One former employee told Gamasutra that they witnessed a “middle-level” male coworker ask female coworkers for oral sex. The employee had several complaints levied against him but was never disciplined.
Another employee said that they felt pressured into reciprocating romantic advances from a team leader who proceed to control them. “I was not allowed to befriend other guys at the studio,” they recalled. “He wanted me for himself and I felt like I was his toy.”
According to reports, Ubisoft North Carolina handed out gift cards as a silencing tactic to those who complained about abuse or witnessed an incident. In one instance, a complainant’s entire team was handed gift cards.
The Gamasutra report is a lengthy read with some pretty harrowing accounts. For its part, Ubisoft has acknowledged its shortcomings, and has promised changes effective immediately.
At least one Ubisoft executive has resigned amid the allegations, another has temporarily stepped down, and a third remains suspended while an investigation is ongoing.