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Video games | “Unprecedented” bloodletting at Ubisoft



Barely two months after the release of Ubisoft’s biggest hit, Far cry 6, a quarter of the 25 most important craftsmen have already left the company. Same ratio for the landmark game of 2020 orchestrated by Ubisoft Montreal, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

These departures illustrate what many sources have qualified as the “great exodus” within Ubisoft for 18 months, in a shocking article published by the American news site Axios. Based on a dozen interviews with current or former Ubisoft developers who wished to remain anonymous, journalist Stephen Totilo, specialized in video games, qualifies this wave of departures as “unprecedented”.

The heart of Amazon’s new studio in Montreal, for example, was formed last March of four Ubisoft pillars dedicated to gaming. Rainbow Six Siege. The brand new studio founded by Jade Raymond, Haven, has managed to recruit a few high-caliber craftsmen from Ubisoft, including artistic director Raphaël Lacoste and associate game director Daniel Drapeau.

Abundance in Montreal

These departures of experienced directors and developers have notably had the effect of slowing down, sometimes even stopping game development, report two current Ubisoft employees at Axios. The site also identifies the abundance of generous offers in Montreal as one of the reasons for this exodus. A programmer thus explains having succeeded in tripling his salary by changing employers.

The compensation structure at Ubisoft, which offers shares to some of its employees, could also be at issue, has learned. Press. Almost 4% of the shares of the French company are held by its employees, who generally receive them as a bonus after the conclusion of a project, on condition that they do not cash them until several months, or even several years later. However, this method of remuneration has become much less attractive with the plunge in Ubisoft’s share, which fell from 87.19 euros ($ 126.90 CAN) last January to 43.30 euros (63.16 $ CAN). this Tuesday.

Axios also evokes a multitude of reasons put forward by the former employees. First and foremost, the management of allegations of sexual harassment and a toxic work climate that rocked Ubisoft in 2020. Last July, nearly a thousand employees signed a letter in support of their striking Activision colleagues. Blizzard which indicated that the problem was far from being resolved at Ubisoft. “We have seen nothing but compassionate words, empty promises and the inability or reluctance to fire known abusers. […] We no longer have confidence in your commitment to solving these problems at the root ”, one could read.

Wage increases

Axios sources cite other areas of discontent, including the creatively unmotivating directives from the Paris head office and wages that are too low. According to LinkedIn data cited by Axios, Ubisoft has a turnover rate of 12%, which is lower than Activision Blizzard (16%), but higher than its competitors EA (9%) and Epic Games ( 7%).

On the Ubisoft side, Montreal spokesperson Antoine Leduc-Labelle recalls that Canadian employees have recently benefited from salary increases ranging from 5% to 7%. “Our retention has increased by 50%,” he said in an email to Press. Our starting rate is within industry standards. ”

He specifies that Ubisoft has carried out more than 2,600 hires in the world since last April, “which is a respectable figure”. The Montreal studio of Ubisoft, the most important of the company with its some 4,500 employees, has also hired 30% of women in 2021, notes the spokesperson, which constitutes “a record in the history of Ubi Montreal, which is part of our desire to create a more diverse workplace ”.

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