A recent piece from Axios contained the results of dozens of interviews with current and ex-Ubisoft staff. When I read through this article, I was a bit shocked about the internal reaction to pretty much everything that goes on at the company. However, there’s a common thread that can be seen throughout all areas of the company, and it’s clear that there’s one core issue that’s causing all the problems. Ubisoft cannot accept that it’s wrong, or has ever been wrong, and won’t ever do so. This is a company that employs tens of thousands of people, and it doesn’t ever want to turn around and say that it made a bad call, or that something wasn’t necessarily right.
I’ve worked with people who hold this same attitude, and it’s more than infuriating, it’s dangerous. If a company makes a bad call and something bad happens because of it, the company will never learn. Instead, it will look at the people it forced into a situation by making that bad call, and blame them. It only accepts responsibility if things go well. For example, rushing something through development in an unreasonable timeline causing crunch is a bad call, yet Ubisoft will make it to justify the release of a game. When the game is buggy, it’ll turn around and say that it should have delayed the game, but that’s the fault of those working on it.
Many developers and executives have left Ubisoft for reasons that stem from the company never accepting fault. For example, they leave because of the pay, then Ubisoft puts up its pay across the board. It sees people leaving due to harassment, and instead tells everyone to look forward and not dwell on the past, that everything’s fine. These are the marks of a terrible business culture, and it’s only going to get worse as the company grows.
I don’t see a solution unfortunately. Ubisoft has many big brands under its belt with hundreds of thousands of fans that will play all of its games. There’s no way that they’d all stop until the company sorted itself out, and it’s sad to think of those the company is going to hurt moving forward.