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Ousted Assassin's Creed Valhalla creative director now working for Tencent

Ashraf Ismail left Ubisoft Montreal following allegations of misconduct towards young female fans, and is said to have been quietly working with Tencent since 2021.

Justin Carter

July 28, 2022

2 Min Read
Ashraf Ismail, former Ubisoft creative director, in a developer diary for Assassin's Creed Origins.
Image via the Assassin's Creed YouTube channel.

Ashraf Ismail, former creative director at Ubisoft Montreal who left following allegations of sexual harassmenthas spent the last year working at Tencent. As reported by Axios, Ismail was brought on in 2021 to help lead development of a new game from the Chinese tech giant. 

Ismail served as creative director for multiple Assassin's Creed titles, including 2018's Assassin's Creed Origins and 2020's Valhalla. He was accused n 2020 of infidelity, particularly through alleged instances of acting inappropriately towards both Ubisoft employees and Creed fans significantly younger than himself. His name was one of many that came up in reports of inappropriate conduct in Ubisoft. 

Following the allegations, Ismail took a "leave of absence" from Ubisoft before Valhalla's release in 2020. Ismail announced on his now-deleted Twitter account that he was leaving to "properly deal with the personal issues in my life. The lives of my family and my own are shattered. I am deeply sorry to everyone hurt in this."

At Tencent, he is said to be serving as a "consultive creative director" with its TiMi studio, and is said to have been involved with the studio since its opening. TiMi is staffed by several ex-Ubisoft Montreal employees, several of whom are said to have worked with Ismail. 

A representative for TiMi told Axios that Ismail "has carried himself in a professional manner and has consistently shown an eagerness to learn and grow as both a team member and person. We strive to provide a safe, respectful working environment for all and will continue to do so as our team grows and expands.”

Ubisoft is still dealing with its allegations

Several employees at Ubisoft were named during those original allegations in 2020. Editorial team head Serge Hascoët, Canadian operations head Yannis Mallat, and human resources lead Cécile Cornet each had respective allegations of misogyny and homophobia, or allowing said conduct to continue. All three have since resigned from Ubisoft. 

Further reporting has shown that Ubisoft's issues encompass their global studiosSkull & Bones developer Ubisoft Singapore has faced similar allegations of sexism, racial insensitivity, and abuse. Like at Ubisoft Montreal and Quebec, the harassment was said to have been done by individuals in management positions. 

Following the reports, the pro-worker group A Better Ubisoft was established in July 2021. Hoping to improve working conditions and institute industry-wide policies for all developer studios, the group has yet to have its demands met by Ubisoft in any capacity. 

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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