Last week, Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot sent out an email detailing that the staff need to “get back on the path to success”. Along with that, the company cancelled three unannounced games and delayed Skull and Bones for the umpteenth time. Not stated in the article was the number of cuts that Ubisoft was making like they’re a coach of a children’s football team. A spokesperson said only “27 positions were eliminated as part of this restructuring”. Along with this, Guillemot said in the email that the ball is in [the workers] court. Because of these issues plaguing the company, the union Solidaires Informatique has called for a strike next week. As stated in a Kotaku article, the union has members from Ubisoft Paris offices, so it’s not like this random French union group is calling for a strike. There’s a reason behind it all.
📢Ubisoft Paris – Appel à la grève
Vendredi 27 – après-midi
M. Guillemot veut mettre la pression à ses employés. Répondons lui par la grève. ✊
📢CALL TO STRIKE – FRIDAY 27th – Afternoon
M. Guillemot want to put pressure on the salaries. Let's strike. ✊ pic.twitter.com/1SaS5SdwFM
— Solidaires Informatique Jeu Vidéo (@SolInfoJeuVideo) January 17, 2023
In a recent tweet, Solidaires stated that next Friday there will be a strike. They state in their translated article that Guillemot wants people to be “strategic with [their] spending”. This is ironic as their strategy as of late has been to cancel games. And they have at least two games that are in development hell, Skull and Bones and Beyond Good and Evil 2. Ubisoft did say that BGaE2 is still in development, however, the game recently surpassed Duke Nukem Forever as the longest AAA game in development. Solidaires also says that when Guillemot says “attrition and organization adjustments” he really means reductions, studio closures, salary cuts, layoffs, etc.
Including asking if salaries have kept up with the cost of living, implementation of a 4-day week, and if there’s anything to help teams who have just finished big titles exhausted, with Just Dance or Mario as examples. Lastly, Solidaires has four demands that they hope will happen. 10% increase to salaries, regardless of annual increases so staff can keep up with the cost of living. They state that Ubisoft gains “hundreds of millions of euros obtained from Tencent, there is money in the coffers of the employers”. Coffers are a chest, or box that holds valuables. An improvement of working conditions along with the implementation of the 4-day work week as stated above. Transparent evolution of the workforce not just for Ubisoft Paris, but for other Ubisoft studios. Lastly, a commitment against dismissals and abusive managerial policies that let employees to resign.
Unions and video game companies have gone hand in hand recently, and for good reason. We saw in May of last year, Raven Software, a child company of Activision-Blizzard, has won the right to unionise. And in our own backyard, Game Workers Australia is the first ever Aussie game dev union. It’ll be interesting to see what happens during the strike, and hopefully they get their demands. We’ll just have to wait to see.