Inside Ubisoft’s Unprecedented ‘Exodus’ of Developers

Colleagues across Ubisoft have names for the procession of developers who have departed over the past 18 months: "the great exodus" and "the cut artery." Across the company's global network of studios, which at 20,000-plus employees is one of gaming's largest workforces, many developers have decided it's time to quit. And many of their colleagues describe a flow of goodbyes that they've never seen before. Axios reports: Top-name talent is leaving, with at least five of the top 25-credited people from the company's biggest 2021 game, Far Cry 6, already gone. Twelve of the top 50 from last year's biggest Ubisoft release, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, have left too. (A 13th recently returned.) Also out are midlevel and lower-level workers as headcounts drop, particularly in Ubisoft's large and normally growing Canadian studios. LinkedIn shows Ubisoft's Montreal and Toronto studios each down at least 60 total workers in the last six months. Two current developers tell Axios the departures have stalled or slowed projects. One developer recently said a colleague currently at Ubisoft contacted them to solve an issue with a game, because no one was still there who knew the system. Interviews with a dozen current and former Ubisoft developers cite a range of factors for the departures, including low pay, an abundance of competitive opportunities, frustration at the company's creative direction, and unease at Ubisoft's handling of a workplace misconduct scandal that flared in mid-2020. One developer with more than a decade of experience at Ubisoft before recently leaving said the company is "an easy target for recruiters," given the company's myriad issues. Said another now-former Ubisoft worker who was disappointed by directives from the company's Paris HQ: "There's something about management and creative scraping by with the bare minimum that really turned me away." Many spoke fondly of much of their time at the company, and one said they'd even consider returning, but the past year and a half was a breaking point. "Management says it's on top of it, telling Axios that attrition is up but that the company has hired 2,600 workers since April," the report adds. "A spokesperson noted that questions in a recent companywide survey, about whether employees are happy at the company and would 'recommend Ubisoft as a great place to work,' returned a score of 74, which they said was in line with the industry average."

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