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Activision and Ubisoft pro-worker groups say management ignoring calls for cultural reform

"Since 1000 current and former Ubisoft employees signed an open letter to management, we have received no response to our key demands."

Chris Kerr, News Editor

September 3, 2021

3 Min Read

A number of current and former employees from Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft claim management at both companies continue to ignore calls for meaningful cultural reform.

Pressure groups ABetterUbisoft (ABU) and ABetterActivisionBlizzardKing (ABetterABK) have spent weeks demanding more be done to address the systemic abuse and misconduct that has seemingly caused years of cultural rot at both publishers.

Yet, despite both ABU and ABetterABK making their voices heard through walkouts, open letters, and continuous social media pressure, both claim their demands are falling on deaf ears.

Earlier today, ABetterABK explained that Activision Blizzard's "chief suite" has failed to acknowledge its demands, which include an end to mandatory arbitration clauses that protect abusers, the implementation of a company-wide 'Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion' task force, and the publication of data on relative compensation to ensure employees are paid fairly.

Meanwhile, ABU recently noted it has been 34 days since 1000 current and former Ubisoft employees signed an open letter to management seeking meaningful change, adding it has "received no response to our key demands" during that time.

ABU is specifically demanding Ubisoft stop protecting known abusers by shipping them from studio to studio without repercussion. It's also seeking cross-industry collaboration that would see a multitude of companies "agree on a set of ground rules and processes that all studios can use to handle these offenses in the future," and wants a collective seat at the table internally so it can influence how Ubisoft as a company is run moving forward.

Both pressure groups were established after Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft were hit with widespread allegations of misconduct within the space of a year.

In 2020, a number of high-level Ubisoft employees faced allegations of misconduct, prompting a string of resignations and departures. An extensive report published by Game Developer (formerly Gamasutra) found the cycle of abuse and misconduct to be deep rooted, with over a dozen former and current employees recalling how the French publisher had spent years building its culture on a bedrock of toxicity.

Activision Blizzard, meanwhile, was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing earlier this year for instilling a 'frat boy' culture among its workers that allowed for widespread misconduct and abuse. The suit detailed a number of serious allegations, and was initially downplayed by Activision before eventually prompting some notable departures, including that of Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack.

In the weeks and months since those allegations surfaced, Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard management have spoken publicly about ushering in positive change, but according to ABU and ABetterABK have yet to engage with their own workers in a meaningful way.

Update (09/06/21): The organizers behind the open letter sent to Ubisoft management have shared a brief statement with Game Developer suggesting the French company has shown nothing but "apathy" towards those workers pushing for positive change.

“Neither ABK workers nor Ubisoft workers have received any meaningful response from management, instead we have received token gestures that show the true apathy management has towards the employees," they wrote.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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