Ubisoft Entertainment S.A. (Euronext: UBI) (pronounced /ˈjuːbisɒft/ YOU-bee-soft) is a French computer and video game publisher and developer with headquarters in Montreuil-sous-Bois, France. The company has a worldwide presence with studios in 17 countries and subsidiaries in 28 countries.
Misleading Advertising: Ubisoft has been criticized for its misuse of key terms in its material, potentially to confuse or mislead consumers. Most notably the use of "Iconic" for new IPs, which have not had time to become widely recognized and well-established amongst the public. "Gameplay" on cinematic footage. "Access" for subscriptions and other paid live service models.
Trend Chasing: In 2023, six games had been cancelled within 7 months and 2 titles were stuck in development hell - one of which set a new record for longest time in development: over 15 years. CEO Yves Guillemot blamed employees for the delays and poor game quality, saying it was their "responsibility to deliver the lineup on time" and "adapt to an evolving industry." Employees pointed the finger at poor management, lack of innovation, and a toxic work environment with excessive crunch and on-going sexual harassment investigations. Employees noted how they "should be setting trends instead of chasing them", but the powers that be are more interested in NFTs, battle royales, hero-shooters, and producing Call of Duty knock-offs and copy/paste open-worlds like Far Cry.
Subordinate Women: Ubisoft refuses to feature female characters in lead roles, claiming they are "harder to animate" and "Don't sell". AC: Unity, set during the French Revolution had three protagonists that were all male. Execs also fought against having female leads in games – including Kassandra from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Hascoët de-emphasised the role Evie was set to play in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and prevented a plot twist that would’ve seen Bayek’s wife become the main character halfway through Assassin’s Creed Origins. The constant redirection and restarting of Beyond Good & Evil 2 over the years has been attributed to Ubisoft's anti-female lead policies.
Misogynistic Culture/Abuse: In 2020 a culture of sexual harassment in the workplace came to light. In August 2021 Ubisoft Singapore was investigated by Singapore's Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices following reports of sexual harassment and workplace discrimination within that studio. Women were kept from both creative roles and as leads within the games themselves. Male staff would regularly hold work meetings at strip joints and Chief Creation Officer Serge Hascoët had reportedly drugged people with marijuana-laced cakes without their knowledge. Ubisoft issued the statement "We have a roadmap, we promise to be better", but did not enact any changes. Executives involved in the sexual harassment either resigned or kept their jobs/positions. Employees working for Ubisoft expressed strong concerns that "the way the studio—HR and management disregards complaints enables the unprofessional behavior." An investigation at the Paris headquarters compared its culture to a fraternity house. A company-wide letter in October 2020 found that nearly 25% of the employees had experienced or witnessed misconduct in the last two years.
The investigation prompted several members to resign: Tommy Francois (vice president), Maxime Beland (vice president), Yannis Mallat (managing director), Cécile Cornet (head of HR), Serge Hascoët (creative officer), Stone Chin (PR director), Ashraf Ismail (creative director), Michel Ancel (management), Hugues Ricour (managing director).
The French workers' union Solidaires Informatique initated a class action lawsuit against Ubisoft in relation to the allegations. At the onset of the trial in May 2021, Le Télégramme reported that very little had changed within the company, as many of the HR staff that were part of the problem remained in their positions within the company, both in its France headquarters and its Canadian divisions. Solidaires Informatique and two former Ubisoft employees filed a second lawsuit within the French courts in July 2021. The complaints states that Ubisoft "is an entity for institutional sexual harassment for setting up, maintaining and reinforcing a system where sexual harassment is tolerated because it is more profitable for the company to keep harassers in place than to protect its employees". About 500 employees across Ubisoft signed a letter in solidarity with the Activision Blizzard employees, stating that "It should no longer be a surprise to anyone: employees, executives, journalists, or fans that these heinous acts are going on. It is time to stop being shocked. We must demand real steps be taken to prevent them. The Ubisoft employees made three demands of management: 1) ending the cycle of simply rotating troublesome executives and managers between studios to avoid issues, 2) for the employees to have a collective seat in ongoing discussions to improve the workplace situation, and 3) establishing cross-industry collaboration for how to handle future offenses that includes non-management employees as well as union representatives.
As the world's third largest independent video game company, Ubisoft studios employs the second largest amount of in-house development staff in the world and has several divisions and offices across the globe.
- Sinister Games — Acquired 2000/Closed 2003
- Sunflowers Interactive — Acquired 2007/Closed ??
- Quazal Technologies — Acquired 2010/Closed ??
- THQ Montreal — Acquired 2013/Closed ??
- Ubisoft Casablanca - Opened 1998/Closed 2016
- Ubisoft São Paulo - Opened 2008/Closed 2010
- Ubisoft Vancouver - Acquired 2009/Closed 2012
- Ubisoft Zurich - Opened 2011/Closed 2013
- Wolfpack Studios — Acquired 2004/Closed 2006
- Ubisoft Entertainment SA was formally known as Ubi Soft Entertainment Software.