I’m back writing about Ubisoft, almost six months after that editorial in which I remembered the past of the French publisher with nostalgiaof how up to a certain point in its history it had been able to innovate and renew itself, and then being sucked into a vortex of derivative works and failed projects.
I return to the subject because in the meantime the situation has only gotten worse. The company recently cut its sales estimates related to the current fiscal year, this is because two of the most recent major releases – Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope and Just Dance 2023 – have proved to be commercial flops. Meanwhile the publisher had to postponing the release of Skull and Bones for the umpteenth timethe pseudo-piratical simulator announced almost six years ago during the E3 2017 conference, therefore having to give up another source of revenue in the immediate future.
the publisher has canceled three projects not yet announced
I don’t think I’m saying nonsense if I say that Ubisoft isn’t doing very well, so much so that the publisher has canceled three projects not yet officially announced (tra cui il battle arena multiplayer Project Q) with a view to cutting costs and trying – tightening the belt – to find the right route to success. The problem is that, in all of this, Ubisoft managers did not accept their responsibilities, but rather they have tried to shift the weight of the failure onto the shoulders of the employees. As if the repeated failures accumulated by the publisher are the fault of the senior animator Jane or the junior programmer François, and not of those who actually have decision-making power within the company, such as the middle and top managers, including obviously the CEO Yves Guillemot. Because it is absolutely not the fault of Guillemot – or whoever – if Ubisoft has invested in Quartz, the NFT program never got off the ground (thankfully), just to give an example of something anyone could have predicted would end badly. And it’s not the executives’ fault that studios aren’t even given the creative freedom to develop video games with female protagonists, because according to the foremen they don’t sell.
In fact, it is no coincidence that just yesterday afternoon a strike called by Solidaires Informatique, the French trade union representing the workers of Ubisoft Paris, was held. Also because, as usual, it is certainly not the managers who pay the consequences with a house on the Côte d’Azur, a sports car and millionaire bonuses, but poor bastards oppressed by grueling working conditions, an inappropriate salary that is not adjusted to inflation and – if things go badly – also victims of harassment on the spot of work. Yes, because in recent years Ubisoft hasn’t missed even those, between accusations of toxic work environments and Guillemot’s public apology which led to nothing, a bit like what happened just a few days ago after that the CEO had blamed the company’s failures on the employeeswhile ignoring their requests for change.
At this point it is therefore necessary to understand whether the Ubisoft ship, which has been moored for years, does not set sail because it is unable to pick up the anchor and set sail, or because in the meantime it is taking on water and the captain does not want to notice. Unfortunately my impression is that the leaks in the hull are so large and extensive that hardly one or two hit releases, for example the next Assassin’s Creed Miragethey will be able to resolve the situation. Maybe it will be possible to throw some water loaded into the sea and start again, but Ubisoft’s problems appear structural and must be resolved before we can try to hypothesize a real change. Otherwise, in a short time the company will find itself stranded again, just as happened two years ago – incidentally before the release of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – when we witnessed a first collapse and a partial ascent.
Will one or two successful releases, for example Assassin’s Creed Mirage, solve the situation?
In the meantime, however, the workers who remain at Ubisoft are not alone they continue to passively suffer the wrong decisions of the managers, but they must also be told that it is up to them to turn the company around. Don’t you find that there is something deeply wrong with all of this?
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