Yves Guillemot open up about Ubisoft’s culture shift, Tencent’s investment

Ubisoft's culture may be changing, but not its creative process.

Image via Ubisoft

Ubisoft came under fire in 2020 when senior employees were accused of abuse, harassment, and discrimination. CEO Yves Guillemot has recently opened up about the changing company culture regarding the workplace environment and Tencent’s investment in Guillemot Brothers Ltd.

“We want to ensure an inclusive, rewarding, and respectful workplace for all. Yes, we stumbled, and we have acknowledged that. We learned a lot along the way and have made meaningful progress,” Guillemot said to GamesIndustry.biz on Sept. 10.

Ubisoft addresses the issues with the past company culture

Ubisoft came under fire in 2020 after dozens of former and current female employees publicly spoke out against the company, accusing male superiors of everything from harassment and manipulation to physical assault and rape. Following investigations, creative director Ashraf Ismali and PR director Stone Chin were fired from Ubisoft.

Other prominent male employees later left the company due to allegations of abuse. New leaders were brought in, including chief people officer Anika Grant, vice president of global diversity and inclusion Raashi Sikka, and head of workplace culture Lidwine Sauer.

“We have done a lot and I think we are a company that can be proud of itself. We can always do better and so the people that are saying we should fix this and that are helping us to do better. We are open to criticisms, and when they are valid points, we go after them to solve them,” Guillemot told GamesIndustry.biz.

Some criticism has been that Guillemot refused to step down from Ubisoft after all the accusations were made public, with critics explaining that this harmful behavior happened under his leadership. Guillemot said he had a “responsibility” to “take care of the situation” himself.

Ubisoft is still working on improving company culture and making the environment safe and welcoming for new staff. Guillemot expressed confidence that the company would be able to continue improving its culture while simultaneously developing games that the community will love.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot takes 30% pay cut | GamesIndustry.biz
Image via GamesIndustry.biz

Tencent increased investment leaves fans worried about Ubisoft direction

Tencent, a Chinese tech firm, recently took 49.9 percent of shares in the Guillemot family business, Guillemot Brothers Ltd. This leaves 51 percent of the company controlled by the brothers. Tencent also owns a five percent stake in Ubisoft.

Guillemot said that the company wanted to grow its partnership with Tencent to further business in the future, particularly when it comes to mobile gaming. More business opportunities with Tencent means more revenue, including “creating AAA games on mobile,” which Guillemot said is difficult to do without Tencent’s help.

Ubisoft recently announced Rainbow 6 Mobile, a phone version of the popular hardcore shooter.

Despite the financial reasoning behind the investment, Ubisoft’s shares dropped 15 percent. This didn’t bother Guillemot, however. He explained that people might believe Ubisoft only has one partner, which is not the case.

“We are really open to anybody, but in the short and medium term our goal is to show what we can achieve in our studios and improve the share price by building the best games in the industry,” Guillemot said.

This doesn’t mean that Ubisoft is open to being acquired by another company, like Microsoft purchasing Activision Blizzard.

“We work very hard on our new IPs to astonish players,” he said. “The best way to do that is very often to be independent, because you can decide what you want to do.”