Ubisoft has apologised after recently issuing its workers with a “worrying” strategic update.
The French video game publisher said in a statement last week that it was facing some “major challenges as the industry continues to shift towards mega-brands and long-lasting titles”.
Consequently, Ubisoft pushed back the release of the long-awaited Skull & Bones by another year again and also cancelled three unannounced games. It plans to strengthen its focus on its biggest brands and live services following a poorer than expected performance over Christmas.
Additionally, the publisher announced plans to cut costs of around €200million (£174,899) over the next two years “through targeted restructuring, divesting some non-core assets and usual natural attrition”.
The value of company stocks have fallen by 19 per cent since the announcement, according to the Financial Times.
Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot has since contacted staff via email, appearing to shift the blame on to them. “Today more than ever, I need your full energy and commitment to ensure we get back on the path to success,” he wrote.
“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.”
Guillemot continued: “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.”
Now, as EuroGamer reports, the CEO has apologised for his controversial remarks. He is said to have addressed the contents of his email during a company-wide Q&A that took place yesterday (January 18).
“I heard your feedback and I’m sorry this was perceived that way,” Guillemot reportedly told staff at the start of the session.
“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.”
He added: “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.”
Following the initial email, the French trade union Solidaires Informatique called on Ubisoft Paris workers to stage a half-day strike next Friday (January 27).
“According to Guillemot: the ball is in our court (but the money stays in his pocket),” it said in a statement.
“If the request to employees to be ‘especially careful and strategic with your spending’ is ironic considering the company’s editorial strategy of the last few years, it is not funny.
“When Mr. Guillemot speaks of ‘attrition’ and ‘organisational adjustments’, it means: staff reductions, discreet studio closures, salary cuts, disguised layoffs, etc.”
Solidaires Informatique also issued a list of four demands to Ubisoft – an immediate 10 per cent pay rise “to compensate for inflation” and improved working conditions, including the introduction of a four-day week.
Yesterday’s Q&A reportedly saw Ubisoft Chief People Officer Anika Grant reject the four-day working week proposal, as well as requests for pay increases in line with inflation.
In regards to potential layoffs, Guillemot is said to have remained vague during the session. “It’s not about doing more with less, but finding ways to do things differently across the company,” he reportedly told workers.