Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has reportedly apologised for telling employees ‘the ball was in their court’ following disappointing financial results in the company’s most recent quarter. However, senior management is also said to have rejected calls – highlighted in a recent union statement – for inflation-matching pay rises and a transition to a four-day week.
Guillemot’s controversial comments to Ubisoft staff came in an email last week, when he wrote, “Today more than ever, I need your full energy and commitment to ensure we get back on the path to success. I am also asking that each of you be especially careful and strategic with your spending and initiatives, to ensure we’re being as efficient and lean as possible. The ball is in your court to deliver this line-up on time and at the expected level of quality, and show everyone what we are capable of achieving.”
Guillemot is said to have addressed his choice of words – which many saw as a shifting of blame for Ubisoft’s recent troubles onto employees – during a company-wide Q&A session held earlier today, as reported by Kotaku citing sources present during the meeting.
“I heard your feedback and I’m sorry this was perceived that way,” Guillemot reportedly told staff at the start of the Q&A. “When saying ‘the ball is in your court’ to deliver our lineup on time and at the expected level of quality, 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 to create the conditions for all of us to succeed together.”
Elsewhere in the Q&A – which Kotaku reports was “filled with industry buzzwords and business jargon and light on specifics” – chief people officer Anika Grant is said to have rejected a recent proposal for four-day work weeks, as well as requests for pay increases in-line with inflation.
Both these demands were recently repeated in a call for strike action by the Ubisoft Paris chapter of workers union Solidaires Informatique, which accused Guillemot of asking “a lot from his employees, but without any compensation”. The union said it was also seeking transparency on the evolution of the local and global workforce, and a “strong commitment against disguised dismissals and a condemnation of abusive managerial policies that push employees to resign”.
Kotaku reports no executive in today’s Q&A directly addressed the call for strike action.
Today’s meeting follows Ubisoft’s recent admission it is facing “major challenges”, which it blamed on the industry’s “shift towards mega-brands and long-lasting titles”. As a result of these financial pressures, the publisher has pledged an “increased cautiousness over the coming years”, leading to the cancellation of three unannounced projects – and yet another delay for Skull & Bones – on top of the four games it cancelled last July.
Guillemot is said to have remained vague regarding potential layoffs during today’s Q&A, telling employees, “It’s not about doing more with less, but finding ways to do things differently across the company”.