Another Ubisoft High Ranking Member Stepping Down After Misconduct Allegations - But Not Leaving Company
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla released on November 10th, and is currently one of the largest PC launches for a Ubisoft title. Overall it's one of the biggest Assassin's Creed titles to have sold in the company's history.
On November 13th, the Montreal studio was put into lock down after a police call about a potential hostage situation. The building is an office complex for multiple businesses. This turned out to be a hoax and police will investigate the situation further.
And as of November 18th, Managing Director Hugues Ricour for Ubisoft Singapore is stepping down from his position after allegations of workplace misconduct. This was further explained in a Gamasutra article that Ricour will not be leaving the company. Rather, he's being moved to another Ubisoft location - position unknown. Ricour was accused of multiple incidents of sexual harassment a few months ago. This is the part we're going to cover today.
2020 has been a tumultuous year for high-ranking members at Ubisoft with allegations of sexual harassment and various workplace misconduct (racism, etc.). While CEO Yves Guillemot announced a diversity initiative, it's not a blanket fix for the work environment that has been cultivated.
Several influential Ubisoft players have been fired, or resigned, in the wake of the allegations, including the former Valhalla creative director Ashraf Ismail. Which was a sign that maybe Ubisoft was taking the accusations seriously. Independent analysis of the Ubisoft culture has found the misconduct to be more wide-spread than expected, and occurring often.
Which is why Ricour not being fired from Ubisoft is troubling. Given the ongoing investigation into the allegations against him, strong cases at that, it's difficult to say why Ubisoft would be willing to keep Ricour around. These are not allegations that will disappear overnight. They will follow him wherever he goes in the company. And if he has any position of power, it's possible he'll abuse it again. (I'm not saying one can't work on their issues and better themselves. They absolutely can. But given Ubisoft's history, this is a very dangerous precedent to be settling on. They need to be more transparent in this situation; within legal limitations. Ricour should be placed in a job where he has no management authority and be on a leave of absence to seek assistance in changing his behavior.)
Why would Ubisoft keep him around? Maybe Ricour is one of the few high-ranking talents left, and management doesn't want to lose any more. Or maybe they see the allegations as a passing phase that will flame out quickly.
The current praise for Valhalla is burying this story. Ubisoft needs to be careful of how to proceed if they expect to make things right for their staff and victims.