Ubisoft has seen a staggering number of staff from across their various studios, including those working on such flagship franchises as Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed, abandon the company over the last 18 months in an event dubbed internally as “The Great Exodus.”
Axios spoke to dozens of current and former Ubisoft employees who stated that while there has been many resignations in the games industry over the past year, Ubisoft has felt this trend the most, with “top-name talent” – including Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Game Director Eric Baptizat and Assassin’s Creed franchise Art Director Raphael Lacoste – among those jumping ship.
According to the news outlet, “at least five of the top 25-credited people from the company’s biggest 2021 game, Far Cry 6, [are] already gone,” while “Twelve of the top 50 from last year’s biggest Ubisoft release, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, have left too.” Among the latter, reporter Stephen Totilo noted that a thirteenth had left but recently returned.
Midlevel and lower-level workers have also been leaving in droves, mainly from Ubisoft’s Montreal and Toronto studios. These larger studios that had been seeing growth, but according to LinkedIn, ave lost at least 60 workers over the past six months.
Two developers currently at Ubisoft told Axios that the departures have resulted in projects stalling or slowing down, while one recalled that a colleague who currently worked for the developer “contacted them to solve an issue with a game, because no one was still there who knew the system.”
The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time Remake has seen four delays [1, 2, 3]; with the last delay announced alongside similar delays for Tom Clancy’s The Division Heartland and Rocksmith+. Skull & Bones also saw numerous delays [1, 2, 3], with and was apparently rebooted as a live service game akin to Fortnite. Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad was also shut down less than a year after it launch.
Along with Rider’s Republic seeing two delays, other titles that saw delays include Rainbow Six Extraction, Far Cry 6, and Watch Dogs: Legion’s online multiplayer, though it should be noted some of these issues may also have been caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns and the time needed to adapt to remote working conditions.
As for why Ubisoft has seen such a spate of resignations, Axios pointed to a number of reasons, low pay, an abundance of competitive opportunities, frustration at the company’s creative direction, and unease at Ubisoft’s handling of a workplace misconduct scandal that flared in mid-2020″ – the same time as when the “Great Exodus” began.
Multiple Ubisoft executives have resigned or been fired in the aftermath of the scandal [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. More recently, amid recent claims that little has changed since it was implemented, Ubisoft’s Chief People Officer admitted that “people lost trust” in their new misconduct reporting process.
One current developer told Axios “I think abuse and toxicity are contributing factors but not deciding ones for most.”, “Women and people of color experience them as deciding factors.”
A seperate and former Ubisoft employee said that their attempts to be involved in reforming the company’s culture didn’t go in the direction they hoped.
“They constantly emphasized ‘moving on’ and ‘looking forward’ while ignoring the complaints, concerns and cries of their employees,” they stated.
In addition to this, the employee explained that they ultimately left because “The company’s reputation was too much to bear. It’s legitimately embarrassing.”
All of this, according to one developer working with Ubisoft for over decade has lead to Ubisoft being “an easy target for recruiters”, with another asserting that management and creatives are “scraping by with the bare minimum” after Ubisoft’s HQ did little to stem the bleeding.
While many reportedly spoke fondly of their time at the company, Axios reports that “the past year and a half was a breaking point.” One programmer stated they had tripled their pay by leaving Ubisoft for greener pastures.
To counter new studios in Montreal proliferating staff, as well as then-doubling attrition rates at Ubisoft’s Montreal studio, Ubisoft Canada announced pay-rises in early July. This helped improve retention by 50%, but caused developers in the company’s other studios to grow frustrated as they were left to wait and wonder when a similar raise would arrive for them.
Ubisoft Head of People Operations Anika Grant told Axios that while attrition is up, the company has hired 2,600 works since April of this year, though these numbers are significanlty lower than their 4,500 new hires in each of the two years prior. “Our attrition today is a few percentage points above where it typically is,” Grant stated, “but it’s still within industry norms.”
In addition, on LinkedIn, Ubisoft reports that that their attrition rate is 12%. While this is lower than Activion Blizzard (16%), it is higher than EA (9%), Take-Two Interactive (8%), and Epic Games (7%).
An Ubisoft spokesperson told Axios that in a recent company-wide survey, wherein one question asked if respondants were happy in their roles and would “recommend Ubisoft as a great place to work,” employee answers averaged 74. Though they did not elaborate on the extra metric by which these responses were scored, Ubisoft stated these numbers were in line with the industry average.
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