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Groups of current and former employees from Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard are continuing to push for meaningful cultural reforms in the wake of misconduct allegations at both companies.

Game Developer, Staff

August 17, 2021

3 Min Read

Groups of current and former employees from Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard are continuing to push for meaningful cultural reforms in the wake of misconduct allegations at both companies. 

Workers from Activision Blizzard have rallied behind the Twitter handle 'ABetterABK,' and have lent their support to Ubisoft staff also demanding "real permanent change" under the 'ABetterUbisoft' banner on social media. 

Both groups are standing in solidarity together, and are calling on developers from across the industry to join them in holding their employers to account. 

In order to keep pressure on Ubisoft, ABetterUbisoft publicly shared an open letter signed by over 1000 current and former Ubisoft employees across 30 internal studios that expressed support for protesting Activision Blizzard developers and implored Ubisoft itself to take far more action to end abuse. 

The letter was penned in July and shared with a number of media outlets, but is now available to read in full on the ABetterUbisoft Twitter account. The group has outlined four key demands that it believes Ubisoft must meet in order to make progress, and described the steps taken so far by the French publisher as "woefully insufficient."

"[Ubisoft] must stop promoting and moving known offenders from studio to studio, team to team with no repercussions. This cycle needs to end. We want a collective seat at the table, to have a meaningful say in how Ubisoft as company moves forward from here," it explained.

"[We also demand] cross-industry collaboration, to agree on a set of ground rules and processes that all studios can use to handle these offenses in the future. This collaboration must heavily involve employees in non-management positions and union representatives."

ABetterABK said it's standing shoulder to shoulder with ABetterUbisoft, and echoed its demands for industry-wide change. It also said that over 3000 current Activision Blizzard employees signed an open letter at the start of August demanding more reforms along with the resignation of Fran Townsend -- who appeared to trivialize recent allegations of abuse in an internal email -- from the ABK Women's Network. 

In a bid to keep holding Activision Blizzard leadership to account, the group emphasized that the company has "yet to embrace significant change" more than two weeks after employees walked out in protest. "With thousands of ABK employees on our side, we're hard at work building a movement that will continue to take action until real, tangible change is enacted," it added. 

The creation of both pressure groups, which are operating very much in the public eye, comes after both Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard were hit with widespread allegations of misconduct within the space of a year. 

Last year, a number of high-level Ubisoft employees faced allegations of misconduct, resulting in a string of resignations and departures. An extensive report published by Gamasutra ultimately found the cycle of abuse and misconduct ran deep at Ubisoft, with over a dozen former and current employees explaining how the company had spent years building its workplace culture on a bedrock of toxicity and deniability.

Activision Blizzard was then sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing earlier this year for propagating a "frat boy" culture that enabled widespread misconduct and abuse. The lawsuit contained a number of serious harassment and bullying allegations, and despite initially being downplayed by Activision Blizzard, eventually resulted in notable departures such as the resignation of Blizzard Entertainment president J Allen Brack.

The Call of Duty and World of Warcraft maker has since suggested it wants to 'set the example' on inclusion, but in the weeks since the lawsuit came to light has been repeatedly called out by its own employees and shareholders for failing to effectively commit to tackling the issue.

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