Ubisoft employees have addressed why developers avoid communicating with fans where possible, especially around the launch of a new title.
Joe Hobbs, lead prop artist at Ubisoft Annecy, shared his thoughts via his Twitter page where he wrote that team members who are open online about their involvement with Ubisoft titles regularly receive abuse from “fans”, which has led to employees deciding to avoid associating with their achievements publicly.
“I’ve received death threats in the past over Division 2. It’s unacceptable,” said Hobbs, before continuing, “The harassment that game developers receive is utterly disgusting and I see it in the comments of most devs who say pretty much anything.”
Hobbs then goes on to suggest that if players want devs to be more open and communicative, it cannot be met with demands and threats when they do make the decision to do those things, especially when such fans seem to be unaware of how games are made and which decisions certain roles are responsible for.
Other developers responded in the Twitter thread by Hobbs to confirm that comments and abuse from fans has driven them away from social media “to the point I avoid saying anything about what I work on,” said Ubisoft artist Chris Goodridge. A senior programmer for Fortnite said, “I once had someone show up to my house, that really got to me.”
I think what makes me sad is that I know so many people who would love to reach out, talk about what we do, be more informative about #gamedev publicly, educate more people, but they never will because it's not worth the mental abuse that comes with it.
— Joe Hobbs 💙 (@JLHGameArt) July 19, 2022
Speaking to NME, another Ubisoft developer who wishes to remain anonymous said: “I know my team members check social media after launch, especially Reddit, and share feedback with the rest of the team, but I personally avoid everything related to games I work on, because I know that mentally I cannot deal with the amount of negativity just for some crumbs of nice things.”
He continued, “It’s hard to feel proud of my work and talk about it when my first reaction after telling gamers what I do is flinching, waiting for abuse.” He spoke further on fans’ ignorance of the development process by concluding, “There are also people who think I’m their ticket to feedback to the company and keep sending me shit like “You should do this/change this/make this game”.”
With social media and the current age of technology making it increasingly easier for people to have access to game companies and their staff, there’s no doubt this has contributed to the rate of insults and abuse developers are receiving. It’s okay to be a critic in a healthy way, and fans should remember there are human beings on the other end of these social media accounts.