A new open letter signed by almost 500 current and former Ubisoft employees announces their solidarity with the workers at Activision Blizzard, demands movement from their own leadership, and calls for systemic change across the entire video game industry, Axios reports.
“Over the past week, the games industry has once again been rocked by revelations that have long been known by too many of us,” the letter, shared with Axios’ Stephen Totilo, reads. “Revelations that a year ago many were hearing about Ubisoft. It is clear, from the frequency of these reports, that there is a widespread and deeply ingrained culture of abuse behavior within the industry.”
Last year, Ubisoft became embroiled in controversy when several workers spoke out about the instances of sexual harassment, bullying, and other abuses they experienced while employed by the French video game company. A series of high-profile departures followed, with vague promises from the executive suite to do better. But as today’s letter indicates, Ubisoft employees demand more.
The breaking point appears to have been Activision Blizzard’s own issues, which were brought to light when a California state lawsuit against the company came to public awareness last week. The suit describes an environment of pervasive abuse against female employees, referring to the company as a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.”
“We need real, fundamental changes, within Ubisoft, within Activision Blizzard, and across the industry,” today’s letter continues. “To this end, we propose that Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, and other industry-leading publishers and developers collaborate and agree to a set of rules and processes for handling reports of these offenses. This collaboration must heavily involve employees in non-management positions and union representatives. This is essential to ensure that those who are directly affected by these behaviors are leading the change.”
For their part, a group of Activision Blizzard employees are currently in the middle of a planned walkout today meant to protest their employers’ questionable actions and company culture. This has garnered widespread support from across the industry, with many asking fans not to cross the “digital picket line” by abstaining from playing games like Call of Duty and Overwatch during the demonstration.
Activision Blizzard employees themselves have requested that those wishing to stand in solidarity with their walkout donate to one of the following charities:
- Black Girls Code - https://www.blackgirlscode.com
- Futures Without Violence - https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org
- Girls Who Code - https://girlswhocode.com
- RAINN - https://www.rainn.org
- Women In Animation - https://womeninanimation.org
- Women in Games International - https://www.getwigi.com
The influential, overpaid men who allow cultures of abuse to fester in these and other video game companies are quickly running out of options. We’ve reached a point where far-reaching, systemic change is the only answer. Power must be placed in the hands of the workers, quickly and without delay, before more vulnerable people are chewed up and spit out by an industry that’s already failed so many.
Update (07/29/2021, 6:05 p.m. ET): Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has responded to the above letter with an internal memo of his own, according to Axios reporter Stephen Totilo. Guillemot’s statement simply reiterates leadership’s “commitment to creating real and lasting change” at Ubisoft with new, anonymous reporting tools and revamped HR processes.