Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick made significant concessions yesterday to demands raised by studio employees in the wake of a lawsuit over allegations of widespread discrimination and sexual misconduct at the company. His reduced salary is largely performative—his base pay was already halved earlier this year, but he's still eligible for millions in bonuses—but the other commitments were welcomed by employees.
"Today was a huge win for ABK Worker's Alliance!" the workers group tweeted. "Forced arbitration has been removed for cases that deal with sexual harassment and discrimination. The company announced they will raise the number of women and non-binary people it employs by 50%."
That win for the workers was also noticed by A Better Ubisoft, a similar workers collective working for "real and permanent change" at Ubisoft, which has been dealing with its own sexual misconduct scandals since mid-2020. The Ubisoft employees said they were "celebrating some great progress made by @ABetterABK," and said they would "continue to stand together as we work to #EndAbuseInGaming." They also used Activision's promise of action to draw attention to Ubisoft's failure to address its own issues meaningfully, despite having had much longer to do so.
"16 months since Ubisoft was forced to take limited action following public posts on Twitter, you talk about 'a strategic roadmap of change for HR' that you are 'getting ready to start rolling out' giving no timeline for delivery or any hint of what those changes will be," A Better Ubisoft tweeted.
"Only yesterday Activision Blizzard committed to increase their number of women and non-binary workers by 50% within five years. They have promised to invest $250 million 'to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent' and to release annual salary transparency reports, meeting some of the ABK Workers Alliance demands. In just three months it seems that they have listened to the concerns of employees and acted on them. While our demands are not identical, many overlap and could be addressed through similar actions just as swiftly."
76 days later, Ubisoft offers a weak response to our key demands. We have the following statement.#EndAbuseInGaming #ABetterUbisoft pic.twitter.com/4IL4AjhjgPOctober 29, 2021
Multiple Ubisoft executives, including former chief creative officer Serge Hascoët and vice president Maxime Beland, resigned from Ubisoft in the initial wake of the misconduct allegations, but others were merely moved around. Ubisoft Singapore managing director Hugues Ricour, for instance, was removed from his position following a leadership audit sparked by multiple reports of sexual harassment, but instead of being dismissed he was transferred to Ubisoft's head office in Paris to serve as Production Intelligence Director.
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said in July that "important progress" has been made since the misconduct allegations first came to light, but employees dismissed that claim in an open letter, saying that they continue to wait for "real, fundamental change." A Better Ubisoft also criticized the appointment of Igor Manceau to the position of chief creative officer, saying that "the creative team at Ubisoft is composed of white people who are of uniform cultural backgrounds," including Serge Hascoët's former assistant, and Patrick Plourde, who remains vice president of editorial "despite the multiple misconduct reports filed against him."
I've reached out to Ubisoft for comment on the Better Ubisoft statement, and will update if I receive a reply.