Whatever Yves said, whatever Yves did, he didn’t mean it.
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Ubisoft is having a bad time (opens in new tab) at the moment, and the mood in the office can’t have been helped when CEO and co-founder Yves Guillemot sent staff a tone-deaf email saying that the responsibility for turning it all around was on them (opens in new tab). But now, Guillemot has had a change of heart, offering a (semi-)apology at a company-wide Q&A and clarifying that management will have a role to play on the path ahead after all.
“I heard your feedback and I’m sorry this was perceived this way,” said Guillemot (via Kotaku (opens in new tab)) in an apology of the ‘I’m sorry you were mad’ variety. “When saying ‘the ball is in your court’ […] I wanted to convey the idea that more than ever I need your talent and energy to make it happen. This is a collective journey that starts of course with myself and with the leadership team”.
Guillemot’s original email and the response to it were the cherry on a disastrous cake. After several game cancellations, disappointing sales, and the umpteenth delay of Skull and Bones (opens in new tab), sowing discontent among staff with a thoughtless email was the last thing Ubisoft needed. The email even attracted the ire of France’s Solidaires Informatique union, which said “Mr. Guillemot is trying to shift the blame (once again) onto the employees,” and called for a strike at Ubisoft Paris (opens in new tab).
Ubisoft executives didn’t address that call during the Q&A, nor did they do much to allay fears that the company would respond to its recent rough patch with cost-cutting and layoffs. Sources who spoke to Kotaku said that they still felt that management had lost touch with staff, and a comment from Guillemot that the company’s strategy was not about “doing more with less, but finding ways to do things differently,” didn’t seem to rule out the potential for layoffs in the future.
The company is going to have to find some way to pull out of its current nosedive, though, and it probably isn’t going to do it by trying to ape the style of yet another popular genre (opens in new tab). Its best bet is probably Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Ubisoft’s upcoming, classic-style AC game that promises to be a bit more bitesize (opens in new tab) than AC Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla. It certainly won’t be Beyond Good and Evil 2, no matter what Ubisoft says (opens in new tab).