Ubisoft Sexual Misconduct Scandal Grows, Reveals Rejected Female Leads

Recent interviews with Ubisoft employees detail a sexist and male-dominant atmosphere.

By Kiemour, Posted 21 Jul 2020

In recent weeks, Ubisoft has had numerous reports of sexual harassment and abuse, part of the #MeToo movement firmly taking place in the gaming industry. According to the accusations, many complaints of these actions had been filed, though the company often ignored or mishandled the situation. Now, new information has been revealed, detailing certain directors' insistence that "women don't sell" as main characters in video games.

The accusations reported to Ubisoft's human resources department include subtle sexism, and range to full sexual assault, with some employees describing the company's Paris headquarters as a frat house. Although the CEO of Ubisoft, Yves Guillemot, is promising changes to the company's conduct, no changes have been made as of yet. As allegations continue to stream in about sexist decisions behind closed doors, employees have come forward and revealed how this misogynistic atmosphere leaked into Ubisoft games.

One of the company's most well known franchises, Assassin's Creed, could have been a very different set of games. Although most of these games feature a male protagonist, recent installments such as Assassin's Creed: Odyssey and the upcoming Assassin's Creed: Valhalla give players a choice between playing as a male or female. However, the idea of bringing females into their games as playable characters has apparently been around since 2014, but kept getting shot down by the sexist directors. One employee divulged that Ubisoft's creative lead behind the game, Serge Hasscoët, said that "it was really a lot of extra production work" to add female clothing and animation to the game, and also believed that female leads wouldn't sell. 
 

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, Male vs Female


Despite this, many Ubisoft games still attempted to incorporate stronger female roles, though they were largely unsuccessful in doing so. Assassin's Creed: Syndicate was supposed to give equal screen-time to the game's twin protagonists, Jacob and Evie. But when the game released, the male hero dominated the story. A similar event happened when it released Assassin's Creed: Origins, as the original plan was to kill off Bayek, the game's main character, to allow his wife Aya to take center stage. But over the course of development, Aya faded into the background of the game, and players were barely able to control her. Although it took longer than it should have, Ubisoft finally introduced an option for a female lead with their release of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, nearly 4 years after the first attempt.

These changes were shot down by the creative lead of Ubisoft as well as the company's marketing department, who suggested that female protagonists wouldn't sell. However, the success of games like Tomb Raider, Horizon Zero Dawn, which sold 10 million copies, as well as the record-breaking release of The Last of Us 2 prove how incorrect this claim is. Despite these recent sexual misconduct allegations, Ubisoft has made some high-quality games, and many fans are hoping that the company will portray and execute a more open mindset, especially due to the fact that these decisions developed from biased personal views, rather than the company's opinion overall. 

With the recent reveal that Assassin's Creed: Valhalla will allow players to seamlessly transition between male and female gameplay, many fans are hopeful that Ubisoft has started to rethink its views, and might even release a quality, female-led game in the future. Although Ubisoft has released no official comments to these claims, it is important that these issues be addressed and eradicated from the workplace, as well as the company's games. 

Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek
 

Kieran Mouritsen
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Ubisoft
Developer(s): Ubisoft Quebec
Genres: Action, RPG
Themes: Historical
Release Date: 2018-10-05

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