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Ubisoft CEO apologizes to 'everyone who was hurt' by workplace abuses

Ahead of today's Ubisoft Forward online event, the company posted a video in which CEO Yves Guillemot apologized for "internal issues" at the company in which "certain Ubisoft employees did not uphold" the company's values, and promised that Ubisoft would improve in the future.

"I am truly sorry to everyone who was hurt. 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," Guillemot said. "We are also focused on improving diversity and inclusivity at all levels of the company. For example, we will invest $1 million over the nest five years in our graduate program. The focus will be on creating opportunities for under-represented groups, including women and people of color."

Guillemot also apologized for using the "raised fist" symbol (a symbol of revolution, and of the Black Power movement) to represent the villainous revolutionary group Umbra in the mobile game Tom Clancy's Elite Squad. As we explained in August, the game's premise—that protests are a front for an evil international conspiracy—sounds like a conspiracy theorist's attack on the Black Lives Matter movement.

"This kind of oversight cannot happen," Guillemot said. "We are putting into place safeguards to prevent it in the future. We condemn anyone using our games as a proxy for hate or toxicity. We fully support the Black Lives Matter movement, and today we are making an additional donation tot the NAACP Legal Defense Fund."

Ubisoft has come under an ugly spotlight in recent months, which have seen several executives including former chief creative officer Serge Hascoët and Assassin's Creed Valhalla creative director Ashraf Ismail step down or be fired as a result of widespread sexual misconduct and abuse at the company. Despite being at the top of Ubisoft through all of it, Guillemot, who has previously placed the blame for abuses on employees who "betrayed his trust," made it clear that he has no intention of stepping down as CEO.

"I am fully committed to leading the change at Ubisoft, and to ensuring we always uphold and exemplify our core values, in the company, the industry, the community, and in our games," he said. 

The timing of Guillemot's video led to criticism on social media from people who felt the company was trying to sneak the message out ahead of today's online show. In response, Ubisoft tweeted a statement saying that "timing constraints" kept it from being included with the event (which sounds like an awfully dodgy excuse to me, it's not as though they just found out about all of this last night), but promised that it will be included in VOD releases. 

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Ubisoft Forward begins at 12 pm PT/3 pm ET today, with a preshow starting an hour ahead of that. 

Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.