Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot sparked controversy by saying “it takes a little bit of friction” to make video games, a comment that sparked backlash due to the company’s well-known issues of toxicity and abuse in the workplace.
“Creating a video game is not easy,” Guillemot said in a recent interview with La Presse. (opens in a new tab) (Translated by Google (opens in a new tab)) in response to a question about why workplace misconduct seems to be so widespread in the games industry. “There is a ‘challenge’, from time to time a lot of tension. Techniques must be put in place to ensure that each one manages to find his place. To create, a little friction is needed, because each one has to manage to get his place” . thought through. It’s a job that brings a lot of rewards when you’re successful, but it’s hard.”
It’s a fairly innocuous statement about the nature of collaborative work, and it’s not a direct quote because the interview is in French. Still, the “friction” comment immediately drew attention due to Ubisoft’s long and ugly history of workplace abuse. Those issues first came to attention in mid-2020, and while some senior managers were fired (opens in a new tab) On the heels of those revelations, many employees have criticized what they feel is too slow a pace of meaningful change. In July, for example, the A Better Ubisoft employee group (opens in a new tab) shared an open letter saying that “we have seen nothing but a year of kind words, empty promises, and an inability or unwillingness to weed out known criminals.”
Guillemot rejected those claims at a GamesIndustry (opens in a new tab) interview earlier this month, saying “we’ve done a lot” to address abuses and “we moved quickly to cut some people’s jobs” when allegations of wrongdoing surfaced. He echoed those sentiments in response to criticism of his comment in this interview, saying “there is absolutely no place for toxicity at Ubisoft or in our industry.”
“When I talked about there being friction sometimes, I was thinking of the creative tension that is common and vital in innovative companies like ours, where people are free to challenge ideas and have heated but healthy debates,” Guillemot said in a statement. send. to PC Gamer. “To prevent this tension from turning negative or to address it if it does, that’s where strong corresponding policies, values and procedures are essential.
“Over the last two and a half years, we’ve made a lot of progress on that front in delivering safe and great experiences to all of our teams. Healthy and respectful work environments are our top priority and we’re pleased to say that Based on our latest surveys, members of our team are confident that we are on the right track.
Guillemot and Ubisoft have previously pointed to employee surveys that indicate the company is moving in the right direction, including in the recent GamesIndustry interview. But those too have been criticized by some employees for lacking context and specificity. (opens in a new tab).