Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has addressed the recent controversies surrounding the company – including allegations of serious sexual misconduct by senior staff – in a video statement released ahead of tonight’s big Ubisoft Forward livestream event.
Alluding to, although not directly acknowledging the multiple reports of sexual misconduct directed at members of senior management since June – including Splinter Cell and Far Cry creative director Maxime Béland, vice president Tommy Francois, and marketer Andrien “Escoblades” Gbinigie – Guillemot offered his apologies for what he called “internal issues that have come to light recently”, outlining the steps the company has taken since the revelations began to surface.
“This summer, we learned that certain Ubisoft employees did not uphold our company’s values,” explained Guillemot, “and that our systems failed to protect the victims of their behaviour. I am truly sorry to everyone that was hurt”. As part of Ubisoft’s “long journey” to facilitate “real change”, Guillemot says the company has taken “significant steps to sanction or remove those that violated its values and code of conduct”, and is “working hard to improve [its] systems and processes”.
Earlier reports confirmed Béland and Francois have now both resigned from the company, and that Valhalla creative director Ashraf Ismail was fired after several woman alleged he had contacted them privately after they revealed they were fans of the Assassin’s Creed franchise.
In today’s statement, Guillemot said the company is also now “focussing on” improving diversity and inclusivity at all levels of the company, and that, as part of the process, it has pledged to invest an additional $1m USD in its Graduate Program over the next five years – with the goal of creating opportunities for “under-represented groups, including woman and people of colour” at Ubisoft.
“I am determined to do everything in my power to ensure that everyone at Ubisoft feels welcomed, respected, and safe”, Guillemot continued.
The CEO also touched on the recent controversy surrounding the trailer for the free-to-play mobile game Tom Clancy: Elite Squad, which used a raised fist symbol closely associated with the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement to represent a fictional group of terrorist that players must kill.
While Guillemont again opted not to reference the incident directly, merely alluding to “content that was inappropriate” in a “recent mobile game”, he insisted Ubisoft stands for “equality and respect for all”, that the company condemns “anyone using our games as a proxy for hate or toxicity”, and that “this kind of oversight cannot happen”.
As such, safeguards will be put in place to prevent similar incidents in the future, and Ubisoft will also be making an additional donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I’m fully committed to leading the change at Ubisoft,” Guillemot concluded, “and to ensuring we always uphold and exemplify our core values in the company, the industry, the community, and in our games”.
Guillemot’s statement arrives ahead of tonight’s Ubisoft Forward livestream, the second of the summer, and many are dismayed the company has once again made the decision not to acknowledge recent events within its flagship broadcast. In July, Ubisoft claimed it was too late to include a public response in its first broadcast “because all the content has been pre-recorded”, and now it says it will not include Guillemot’s message tonight “due to time constraints”.
While it’s disappointing Ubisoft has found it impossible to secure the additional four minutes of internet time required to ensure its CEO’s commitment to doing “everything in my power to ensure that everyone at Ubisoft feels welcomed, respected, and safe” reaches as wide an audience as possible, the company says it is aiming append to the statement to all on-demand versions of tonight’s livestream.