Two years after his workplace crisis, Ubisoft boss says company 'stumbled'

Two years after his workplace crisis, Ubisoft boss says company ‘stumbled’

During a press event intended to expose the future of Ubisoft, its boss Yves Guillemot briefly mentioned his labor crisis, which began in 2020.

Numerous reports of sexual misconduct sparked a string of departures from the company, but Ubisoft has remained under pressure ever since – and even this week – from staff who feel the publisher hasn’t done enough. .

Thursday in Paris, during a briefing attended by Eurogamer, Guillemot described the moment as a “stumble” that the company had since recognized and learned from.

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“Our goal is to provide them with the best working environment so that they can thrive and reach their full potential,” Guillemot said. “In a context of [a] big shakeup, we want to build a unique value proposition for employees and make changes whenever needed.

“First, we want to ensure an inclusive, rewarding and respectful workplace for all. Yes, we stumbled. And we recognized it. We learned a lot along the way and made significant progress with plans concrete actions led by our leaders together with Anika Grant, our director of human resources, and Raashi Sika, our vice-president of diversity and inclusion.

“Despite the attrition that has impacted our entire industry during the pandemic, we hired over 4,000 people in the last fiscal year, including over 600 people who were rehired, as well as senior talent from other large companies.”

During a broad discussion, Guillemot also touched on Tencent’s recent acquisition of more Guillemot Brothers, which in turn gave him more ownership of Ubisoft – though he notably left him unchecked. a seat on the company’s board of directors.

“The goal is to do more business on mobile first,” Guillemot said. “We started four years ago, and the games are coming in and they’re really high quality. We think that’s going to really help the business grow, so we’re also looking at new areas where we can do more. business. That’s why we really wanted to grow our partnership…to grow the business and generate more revenue and make sure our brands are really all over the world. We find that making AAA games on mobile is quite , quite hard to do, so we do some of them in-house, but we also work with partners like Tencent to create some of those as well.

Responding to reports of a drop in the share price after the release of the Tencent deal, Guillemot suggested that this was due to the market seeing a lower probability of investment for a quick sale, and perhaps a reduced likelihood of collaborating with other partners – something Guillemot said was incorrect.

“A big negotiation with Tencent [was] that we can have the right to do what we want… People have the impression that we are only with one partner, which is not the case, we are really open to everybody. But you know, in the short term, our goal – and in the medium term – is to try to show what we can achieve in our studios and to increase the price of action by building projects that will be the best in the business. ‘industry.”

Ubisoft memorably rebuffed a previous hostile takeover bid by Vivendi, but over the past year has been the subject of numerous reports suggesting some sort of sale was more likely. I asked Guillemot if Ubisoft’s independence is still as crucial today as it once was.

“Yes, that’s it,” Guillemot told me. “What we want is to be able to give a long-term perspective to all Ubisoft employees, so that they can truly create games that they believe will be the best in the industry.” While that doesn’t rule out partnerships with other companies, Guillemot continued, Ubisoft’s future remains its own.

“Our first intention is to be able to control our destiny. That’s why we invest in new technologies. That’s why we look at how we can use these technologies to create new brands, etc. Our goal is really to grow in this industry. , having all the tools that will make our brands and our teams the most recognized in this industry. And I think we can do it.”

As part of that effort, Guillemot has announced that third-party games will be made available as part of its own Ubisoft+ subscription, which is coming to PlayStation and Xbox soon. This detail perhaps sheds new light on the company’s decision last year to start labeling its own games as “Ubisoft Originals.”

“With Ubisoft+, we are giving gamers easy access to our catalog through a single subscription, our efforts span across PC, Stadia, Amazon, Luna and GeForce Now, and will soon be available on PlayStation and also Xbox,” Guillemot said. . “Our back catalog has more than 100 active games, [and] this makes us a key player in the democratization of games, offering quality, varied, accessible and attractive experiences for a wide audience.

“Offering this content will help us be on all platforms everywhere in the long term, including all platforms – mobile platforms as well. We are proud to announce that we are also opening up to third parties now. companies and freelancers on the platform.”

Finally, I asked Guillemot about the future of Quartz, its widely hated NFT program, and how Ubisoft felt about continuing to work with blockchain and similar technologies.

“We’re looking at all the new technologies and we’re very cloud-centric, on the new generation of voxels, and we’re also looking at all the capabilities of Web3,” Guillemot told me. “We’ve been testing a few things recently that give us more insight into how it can be used and what we should be doing in the gaming world. So we’re field testing with games that…we let’s see, if they really meet the needs of a player, [and then they] will occur in the market. But we’re still in research mode, I would say.”

Eurogamer met with Ubisoft at its Paris office this week, for which Ubisoft covered travel and accommodation costs.

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