Ubisoft CEO says ‘friction’ is an essential part of game development

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot expanded on comments he made during an interview with Canadian news outlet La Presse in which he seemed to suggest that toxic behavior in the video game industry is partly the result of the “friction” necessary to create games.

Asked by the outlet why the games industry has been plagued by reports of misconduct and toxicity, the Ubisoft boss said there has to be some friction in the production trenches to be successful. .

The comments sparked ire from some corners of the industry, not least due to Ubisoft’s own struggle to deal with numerous allegations of harassment and bullying that indicated the Assassin’s Creed the publisher had cultivated a work culture where serious misconduct was endemic.

In 2020, Game Developer released a report based on testimonials from dozens of current and former Ubisoft employees that suggested the company had spent years building its work culture on a bedrock of toxicity and denial. The report contained allegations against several senior Ubisoft employees.

The long fight for change

Since this report and others were published, Ubisoft workers have banded together under the A Better Ubisoft (ABU) banner with the goal of holding management to account and ushering in meaningful reforms, and the group argues that Ubisoft’s superiors still refuse to meet his demands. Notably, ABU has also seemed decidedly unimpressed with the latest comments from Guillemot.

In an effort to assuage the frustration and disbelief aroused by his remarks, Guillemot provided a statement to Axios to explain that when he spoke of tension, he was referring to the “creative tension that is common and vital in innovative companies like ours”.

Guillemot said that at Ubisoft, employees “have the freedom to challenge ideas and have heated but healthy debates,” but such an environment can sometimes create friction. “To prevent this tension from turning negative or to address it if it does, this is where strong corresponding policies, values ​​and procedures are essential,” he added.

Earlier this month, Guillemot told Axios in a separate interview that he was unaware of any wrongdoing by the French publisher. “You realize that things have happened very close to you that you wouldn’t accept if you had known about them,” he said at the time, adding that the company “wasn’t organized enough ” to detect faults and eradicate them.

Despite these comments, a source who contacted Game Developer in 2020 claimed that Guillemot was fully aware of certain issues and allegations, while others suggested that HR’s inability to deal with cultural rot was not. due to a lack of organization, but rather voluntary. neglect.

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