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Ubisoft staff back Activision Blizzard protestors, call for industry-wide change

Almost 500 people sign open letter demanding new reporting processes for all leading companies, removal of all offenders from Ubisoft

Current and former Ubisoft employees have spoken out in support of Activision Blizzard's staff, and demand an industry-wide collaboration on improving how reports of harassment, sexual misconduct and more are handled.

Axios shared the letter in full and reports it has been signed by almost 500 people, including signatories from 32 of Ubisoft's studios around the world.

The letter is addressed to both the workers at Activision Blizzard but also the management of Ubisoft, and will be sent to the latter's CEO Yves Guillemot, but often refers to the industry at large.

It starts by observing that the recent reports over misconduct at the Call of Duty publisher echo those that emerged around Ubisoft last year.

"It is clear, from the frequency of these reports, that there is a widespread and deeply ingrained culture of abusive behaviour within the industry," the letter read.

"It should no longer be a surprise to anyone: employees, executives, journalists, or fans that these heinous acts are going on. It is time to stop being shocked. We must demand real steps be taken to prevent them. Those responsible must be held accountable for their actions."

It later calls for "real, fundamental changes" -- not just at Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard, but across the games industry.

The group proposes that these two companies and other leading publishers and developers work together on establishing a set of rules and processes for handling reports of such offences. They stipulate that this collaboration "must heavily involve employees in non-management positions and union representatives."

The bulk of the letter is directed at Ubisoft's management, in which the group said: "We, the undersigned, have had enough."

It refers to the allegations made against various senior Ubisoft managers and other staff, as well as reports of toxic cultures at its studios, and says that -- despite the publisher's promises of change -- not enough has been done to address the original issues.

"We have seen nothing more than a year of kind words, empty promises and an inability or unwillingness to remove known offenders," the group wrote. "We no longer trust your commitment to address these issues at their core. You need to do more.

"That does not mean more training sessions that go ignored by the people who need them most, and that does not mean more reassurances and kind words. It means real, impactful action. The only way to fix something so ingrained is to remove the pillars that are complicit with it, be it by actively taking part or supporting it."

The group went on to add: "By choosing profit over our security, you are literally toying with our lives. We should not have to choose between work and our safety."

The letter accuses Ubisoft of "[firing] only the most public offenders" and notes that while some have resigned, others have been promoted or moved to different teams and studios, "giving them second chance after second chance with no repercussions."

"The cycle needs to stop," the group wrote.

To that end, the group demands "a seat at the table" in deciding how Ubisoft specifically handles these situations going forward.

They also demand that offenders be removed from the company, as well as anyone "complicit in or willfully ignorant of the actions of others."

The letter echoes a report by French publication Le Télégramme, which claims that minimal changes had been made following the initial allegations. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot responded, claiming the company had made "considerable progress" in addressing the issues raised last year.

However, fresh reports continue to emerge, with a recent exposé detailing the alleged toxic culture and racial pay disparity at Ubisoft Singapore.

In a statement sent to GamesIndustry.biz, Ubisoft responded directly to this new open letter.

"We have carefully read the letter signed by former and current Ubisoft employees," the statement read. "We have a deep respect for the engagement of our teams who are pushing for changes within our industry. We want to be very clear that we take this letter - and the issues it raises - very seriously. Over the past year, we have committed to engaging with our employees to enact fundamental changes. Many of these changes have been driven by internal feedback and insights shared by our teams and we are grateful for this ongoing communication.

"Ubisoft has made significant and meaningful changes that seek to create a safe and inclusive work environment for all, and there is still more work to be done. We absolutely stand behind these efforts and the positive impact they have had on our company culture while also recognizing that we must continue to engage with our employees to ensure we are creating a workplace where they feel valued, supported, and most importantly, safe."

Regarding the Activision Blizzard staff, the group said they "hear you and want to loudly declare solidarity with you," adding: "We believe you, we stand with you and support you."

As of writing, over 3,800 current and former Activision Blizzard staff signed their own open letter, decrying the publisher's response to the lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

The suit accused the publisher and its "frat boy culture" of creating an environment where discrimination and harassment is rampant and largely unpunished -- claims the publisher dismissed as "distorted, and in many cases, false."

Staff also organised a walkout yesterday as a further sign of protest, demanding major changes to the company and how it handles such situationssituation.

CEO Bobby Kotick eventually responded the day before the walkout, acknowledging the initial response had been "tone-deaf." He announced a third-party law firm had been commissioned to review the company's policies and processes, promising "decisive action" for offenders and termination for managers that have previously impeded the process.

Activision Blizzard staff have since replied, criticising Kotick for "[failing] to address critical elements at the heart of employee concerns."

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