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Assassin’s Creed Creative Director Fired From Ubisoft Following Investigation Into Misconduct

Illustration for article titled iAssassin’s Creed/i Creative Director Fired From Ubisoft Following Investigation Into Misconduct
Photo: Frederic J Brown (Getty Images)

Former Assassin’s Creed Valhalla creative director Ashraf Ismail, who stepped down from that role in June after being publicly accused of pursuing extramarital relationships with women under false pretenses, has now been terminated, according to an internal announcement by Ubisoft.

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Employees in the Ubisoft Montreal office where Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is being developed were notified of the decision yesterday. “Following an investigation by an external firm, it was determined that Ashraf’s employment with Ubisoft had to be terminated,” reads the subsequent company-wide message, a copy of which was obtained by Kotaku. “We cannot provide any details about this confidential investigation.” Ismail’s termination comes amid ongoing investigations into misconduct at Ubisoft following a wave of allegations of harassment and other abuses earlier this summer.

On June 21, Ismail was accused on Twitter of a pattern of trying to engage in affairs by leveraging his status and lying about being single. “This person is married. When he starts a relationship with you, know he’s married,” wrote a streamer named Dani who was one of the women Ismail lied to. “I don’t want other women to go through the same, and I’ve already had several tell me he did all the same stuff to them, and they’ve all been in the gaming community,” she wrote in a subsequent tweet. Part of the allegation was that Ismail was using his position of power at Ubisoft to pursue relationships with women new to the gaming industry.

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Following the public allegations, Ismail announced on June 24 over Twitter that he would be stepping down from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla to “properly deal with the personal issues in my life.” He continued: “The lives of my family and my own are shattered. I am deeply sorry to everyone hurt in this.”

Ashraf had been at Ubisoft since 2009, most recently as game director on 2017’s Assassin’s Creed Origins and as creative director on Valhalla.

He now joins a growing list of men who have been fired, forced to resign, or otherwise separate from Ubisoft following allegations of misconduct, which includes some of the most senior creative talent in the company. While some of those departures, like that of former chief creative officer Serge Hascoët, have been announced publicly, others have only been communicated internally, and in some instances, according to three sources Kotaku spoke with, only to the direct team members associated with those individuals.

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“While we will not always publish the results of investigations globally, relevant parties including victims and those involved in the investigations will be informed of the investigations’ results, including disciplinary action(s) when applicable,” read an announcement on Mana from August 10, a copy of which was obtained by Kotaku. “Before and during the investigations, in order to protect the integrity of these investigation, only the manager and the victims and those involved in the investigation receive information. If an investigation results in dismissal, the relevant teams and departments will also be informed.”

Ubisoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Stephen Totilo.

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at ethan.gach@kotaku.com

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DISCUSSION

verklempt
Verklemptomaniac

Before anyone starts whining that “He was just cheating on his wife, sure that’s bad, but why is he being fired for that?!”, a couple of points:

1) He was leveraging his prominent status at Ubisoft to enable his cheating. He was specifically pursing people who worked at Ubisoft, had professional relationships with Ubisoft, or were seeking professional relationships with Ubisoft, which is a giant HR debacle waiting to happen.

2) We don’t know what else was found in the investigation. The original article cited that he pursued women who actually worked for Ubisoft; were any of them subordinates? Was there other bad behavior related to employees or people professionally associated with Ubisoft? Wouldn’t be shocking if he had a couple of additional skeletons in his office closet.