Ubisoft is facing an ongoing reckoning about its treatment of employees, which began last year when allegations of workplace abuse led to the departure of several senior executives. Since then an internal survey revealed 25% of its staff had 'experienced or witnessed' workplace misconduct and, while Ubisoft said it was serious about addressing the issues, some weren't buying it. The accusations continue to pile high, including the recent news that Ubisoft Singapore is under investigation for allegations of workplace harassment, including sexual harassment.
Everything about Ubisoft's corporate leadership is thus seen in this context, as well as in relation to various commitments Ubisoft has made in response to the situation. The company has announced that Igor Manceau, a creative director who's been there for over two decades, is being appointed as its new chief creative officer, a role which reports directly to CEO and co-founder Yves Guillemot and also holds a place on Ubisoft's Executive Committee. Ubisoft's previous chief creative officer, Serge Hascoët, was one of those who left last July.
Manceau's most recent role was as creative director on Riders Republic, and the press release emphasised that part of the role is to "work closely with stakeholders in all the company’s studios to include diverse perspectives and sensibilities that will feed the creative spirit of the group."
The release also gives some insight into why Guillemot and an executive recruitment firm chose him for the role: "Manceau’s track record of guiding creative direction for diverse game types, his capacity to devise concepts that appeal to social players and new audiences, and his consummate team leadership and collaboration [are] qualities that will help him succeed in this position."
If that feels a little like looking at a school report card, it's probably because Ubisoft knows the amount of scrutiny that appointments such as this will bring now and in the future: and the fact that the role was previously held by one of those forced to leave the company.
ABetterUbisoft, a workers' group consisting of current and former Ubisoft employees, has been at the forefront of demanding accountability and change at the company, and responded to Manceau's appointment with its own statement.
We have the following statement in response to the appointment of Igor Manceau as CCO of Ubisoft.#EndAbuseInGaming #ABetterUbisoft pic.twitter.com/J1dnVzpMWTSeptember 7, 2021
"We can only trust that his application and appointment were done so under intense scrutiny due to the actions of his predecessor," reads the text. "However, those actions need to be addressed and we hope to see Igor taking meaningful steps to repair the damage done by his predecessor."
The statement goes on to say that the hire contradicts some of Guillemot's previous commitments to "redefine the leadership of the editorial department and avoid having a singular creative officer" and adds that there is a "shocking lack of diversity" among the VPs at Ubisoft.
"We acknowledge the hiring of Bio Jade Adam Granger, but not much progress has been made beyond that, especially given that two additional VPs were meant to be hired [...] the creative team at Ubisoft is composed of white people who are of uniform cultural backgrounds. This leaves us with a lack of confidence in the future shape of the editorial team."
PC Gamer has contacted Ubisoft for comment, and will update with any response.