“This strike has helped build the next strikes to come,” said one of the striking Ubisoft developers.
Last Friday afternoon, 40 developers from Ubisoft Paris gathered to go on strike in the first walkout in the company’s history. It is the culmination of a tumultuous month for the company. Three weeks ago, Ubisoft announced the cancellation of three unannounced games due to “worsening macroeconomic conditions.”
In a letter to employees, CEO Yves Guillemot said that “the ball is in your court” in terms of meeting deadlines and upsetting Ubisoft’s difficult financial situation.
According to the French Solidaires Informatique union, Guillemot’s “words mean something: overtime, managerial pressure, burnout, etc.” and called on Ubisoft Paris workers to strike for better pay and working hours. Apparently, some developers heard the call.
The office strike lasted for the rest of the working day. It covered about 15% of the company’s development team. Axios reports that the strike was more of a discussion between workers than a protest for the time being. The main topics of discussion were the state of the company, future plans of action and the crisis culture created by intense development cycles such as Ghost Recon and the Just Dance series.
This was even though Guillemot reportedly apologised for comments he made in a recent Q&A meeting with an “I’m sorry this was perceived that way” style message.
That apology apparently wasn’t enough. An anonymous participant told Axios that “this strike has helped build the next strikes to come” and that “If Ubisoft management doesn’t want to hear from us, they might understand that it’s the workers who decide when games are released.”
Despite the numerous cancellations, Ubisoft still has a handful of releases scheduled. Assassins Creed Mirage will arrive sometime this year. It’s planned to be a leaner, stealth-focused game that returns to the series’ format. Skull & Bones may or may not be on its way this year. That’s because it’s been delayed for the sixth time until Ubisoft’s next fiscal year, which starts in July this year.