Ubisoft has found itself in wave after wave of troubling allegations since Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s creative director stepped down and the company put forth an initiative to better its corporate policies and make its workplace environments more healthy. In the time since, various major players at Ubisoft have stepped down, including Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoët, and in a recent report, Ubisoft employees alleged that Hascoët and other leadership pushed a highly toxic workplace. Apparently, "women don’t sell” was a major stance in balancing female leads in games against male counterparts, such as those found in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Origins, and Odyssey.
The recent reports came out of Bloomberg, as posted on July 21, 2020. According to the report, a number of Ubisoft employees alleged that Hascoët and other Ubisoft leaders nurtured a sentiment that pressured developers into keeping female leads from dominating the spotlight in games. As far back as Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Evie and Jacob’s roles in the game were manipulated by executive meddling that reduced Evie’s prominence in the story to skew in more in favor of Jacob.
This mood carried on past Syndicate into the likes of Assassin’s Creed Origins, where Bayek was originally killed early in favor of Aya taking up the player character role. Apparently in Asssassin’s Creed Odyssey, Kassandra’s brother Alexios originally wasn’t even meant to be playable, but Hascoët and other execs stepped in once again. According to one employee, the reasoning for this effort was boiled down to an intensely misogynistic sentiment attributed to Hascoët, who was Marketing Director in addition to being Chief Creative Officer at the time: “Women don’t sell.”
Hascoët has since been forced to resign from the company in an initiative to crack down on sexual misconduct and workplace toxicity at Ubisoft that has seen the likes of Assassin’s Creed Creative Director Ashraf Ismail also exit his position. That said, clearly Ubisoft’s problems went well beyond one incident and CEO Yves Guillemot has come under fire for the wealth of allegations and misconduct that was allowed to occur under his leadership.
It remains unknown at this point if Guillemot himself will suffer any consequences for what has occurred within Ubisoft. The company has a lot of irons in the fire between he likes of Hyper Scape, Far Cry 6, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Watch Dogs: Legion, but with the permeating stink of tremendously problematic and misogynistic executive meddling that has already deeply influenced the direction of franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, simply righting the ship and attempting to sail through choppy waters may not be enough for Ubisoft anymore.