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Ubisoft's free-to-play shooter reportedly suffers from too many cooks, each of whom are making it extremely difficult for the team to get anything done.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

March 28, 2024

2 Min Read
Key art for Ubisoft's free-to-play shooter xDefiant.
Image via Ubisoft.

At a Glance

  • The so-called "Boys Club" running xDefiant is said to be greatly harmful to the shooter's development and the team's health.

Ubisoft's shooter xDefiant has allegedly been undermined by a toxic team culture that's lasted for years.

According to a new Insider Gaming report, a "Boys Club" of executives and directors have caused problems throughout the shooter's creation. Beyond crunch and several departures, it's resulted in missed deadlines for an already troubled project.

The club's effect is so strong, several sources claimed it's added years onto xDefiant's development cycle. One source cited these individuals' unprofessionalism and bad work ethic, and one club member is said to have "more HR reports than I’ve ever seen."

Allegations of toxic behavior have followed Ubisoft for years across various offices. A second source admitted they heard it was "pretty bad" for the xDefiant team, while noting it's just "bad everywhere [at Ubisoft]."

Speaking candidly, a third developer called the Boys Club "a closed group of protected individuals who think they are better than everyone else and do as they please without any repercussions."

A Ubisoft spokesperson told the outlet it was "committed to the well-being and inclusivity of all our team members. [...] We also have put in place strong reporting mechanisms—including an anonymous whistleblowing channel—and robust processes to deal with inappropriate behaviors, should they occur."

xDefiant has had a troubled life

Ubisoft announced xDefiant back in 2021, and last year, the project was delayed indefinitely to address its issues. Insider Gaming's report outlines several of its hangups, most of which stem from its reported toxic leadership.

Longstanding issues such as netcode could've been addressed, said several developers, had team leaders listened to suggestions. Instead, those recommendations were ignored since they didn't come from others within the Boys Club.

One developer told the outlet team members would tell the club about making certain choices "months/years" in advance to avoid future problems.

When the team elected to drop the "Tom Clancy" branding and make xDefiant its own thing, that meant it had to make its own universe from scratch. Maps, in-game items, and other parts of the game like its factions had to be made from the ground up, resulting in corner cutting that led to "huge" technical issues.

xDefiant currently has no hard date, but many told the outlet they just want it to come out so they can go to other projects. The experience has burned one former developer, who said they hoped for "meaningful [industry] change" to come soon."

Insider Gaming's full report can be read here.

Game Developer has reached out to Ubisoft for comment and will update the story accordingly.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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