Ubisoft CEO addresses abuse scandal, Elite Squad controversy
Yves Guillemot apologizes for failing to protect victims, condemns "anyone using our game as a proxy for hate or toxicity"
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot released a video statement today addressing the company's recent abuse scandal, even more recent criticism over the story of the new mobile game Tom Clancy's Elite Squad, and quashing any notion that he would step down over what has happened.
"This summer, we learned that certain Ubisoft employees did not uphold our company's values, and that our systems failed to protect the victims of their behavior," Guillemot said, referencing numerous reports of abuse by high-level employees and an HR department that routinely ignored complaints about those employees.
"I am truly sorry to everyone who was hurt," Guillemot said. "We have taken significant steps to remove or sanction those who violated our values and code of conduct. And we are working hard to improve our systems and processes.
"We are also focused on improving diversity and inclusivity at all levels of the company. For example, we will invest an additional $1 million over the next five years in our graduate program. The focus will be on creating opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and people of color to join and thrive at Ubisoft.
"We are at the start of a long journey. Real change will take time. But I am determined to do everything in my power to ensure everyone at Ubisoft feels welcome, respected, and safe. And to rebuild the trust our teams, fans, and players have in us."
Guillemot then responded to last month's uproar over Elite Squad, which sees world governments teaming up with terrorist organizations to stop a bigger threat: a civil protest movement capitalizing on anger over wars, corruption, and poverty that is actually cover for a different terrorist organization.
"Around the world, this year continues to be a time of societal unrest," Guillemot said. "I want to be clear. Ubisoft stands for equality and respect for all. Unfortunately, one of our recent mobile games included content that was inappropriate. This kind of oversight cannot happen. We are putting in place safeguards to prevent it in the future."
The inappropriate content referenced by Guillemot is apparently a raised fist often associated with the Black Power movement, which was originally the chosen logo of Elite Squad's antagonist group Umbra. After complaints about the premise and presentation of Elite Squad began to grow, Ubisoft's response focused on the raised fist logo and said it would be patched out of the game.
"We condemn anyone using our game as a proxy for hate or toxicity," Guillemot specified in his message today. "We fully support the Black Lives Matter movement. And today, we are making an additional donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund."
Finally, Guillemot dismissed any thought that he might step down, saying, "I am fully committed to leading the change at Ubisoft, and to ensuring we always uphold and exemplify our core values. In the company, in the industry, the community, and in our games."
The statement was released just hours before Ubisoft's next Forward video event to promote its upcoming games. The company's original Forward event took place in July, the day after three senior executives including Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoët stepped down from their roles as a result of the abuse scandal.
Ubisoft was criticized for not addressing the scandal in its Forward event at the time, with the company releasing a statement saying the content had been pre-recorded.
When asked on Twitter if today's statement would be included in the Forward event, Ubisoft said it would not initially "due to timing constraints," but the company planned to include it in archived versions of the event.