Staff at Ubisoft’s Paris office went on strike Friday afternoon (January 28) after a worrying few weeks at the company.
Ubisoft started the year by cancelling three unannounced games and delaying the highly anticipated Skull & Bones to 2024, citing “major challenges as the industry continues to shift towards mega-brands and long-lasting titles”.
In a financial update, Ubisoft explained it was “facing major challenges” amid “worsening economic conditions affecting consumer spending”. The update went on to say the company were also “surprised” by the low commercial performance of Mario + Rabbids: Sparks Of Hope.
Ubisoft also confirmed the cancellation of mysterious PvP game Project Q as developers switch focus to “priority projects”
Alongside all that, it was also announced that Ubisoft plans to cut costs of around £176million over the next two years “through targeted restructuring, divesting some non-core assets and usual natural attrition”.
Following all that, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillermot then emailed staff, putting the onus on them to help reverse the company’s fortunes. “Today more than ever, I need your full energy and commitment to ensure we get back on the path to success,” he wrote. “I am also asking that each of you be especially careful and strategic with your spending and initiatives, to ensure we’re being as efficient and lean as possible.
“The ball is in your court to deliver this line-up on time and at the expected level of quality, and show everyone what we are capable of achieving.”
Following that email, the Ubisoft Paris wing of tech-focused union Solidaires Informatiques called on workers to stage a half-day strike.
Guillemot went on to apologise for the way his comments were “perceived”.
“When saying ‘the ball is in your court’ to deliver our lineup on time and at the expected level of quality, I wanted to convey the idea that more than ever I need your talent and energy to make it happen,” he said. “This is a collective journey that starts of course with myself and with the leadership team to create the conditions for all of us to succeed together.”
However, 40 members of staff at Ubisoft Paris went through with strike action on Friday.
As reported by Axios, workers began gathering in the studio’s cafeteria to discuss the state of the company, the pressures of intense development cycles, and how to coordinate actions to resist policies that can overwork developers.
The “main topic was mostly around ‘what’s next’, what we face in the next 18-24 months will be hard,” said one attendee. “This strike has helped build the next strikes to come” said another.
Speaking about the strike action, the Solidaires Informatiques union said: “[Ubisoft] expects us to be mobilised, to ‘give it our all’, to be ‘as efficient and lean as possible’. These words mean something: overtime, managerial pressure, burnout, etc. Mr. Guillemot asks a lot from his employees, but without any compensation.”
The union’s demands included an immediate 10 per cent pay rise “to compensate for inflation” and improved working conditions, including the introduction of a four-day week.
The union also called for “transparency on the evolution of the workforce, both locally and globally”, and “a strong commitment against disguised dismissals and a condemnation of abusive managerial policies that push employees to resign”.
In other news, Sony has reportedly halved the expected sales forecast for its PSVR2 headset after a disappointing pre-order window.