In a press-release unveiled yesterday, the French video game giant Ubisoft revealed their new plan for a ‘Global Creative Office’ that will see a restructuring of how the company operates. The new system will be focused around ‘poles’ which specialise in certain areas of expertise that operate more autonomously than the company’s current corporate structure allows. This could partially be an attempt to address criticisms of Ubisoft’s company culture and the structure which enables it.
According to the press release by the company, “With this evolution, Ubisoft aims to further support creative teams by facilitating decision-making and strengthening the responsibility and autonomy of studios throughout the creative process. The overall goal is to boost creativity and ensure the highest level of quality in the execution and delivery of Ubisoft's games.”
But what does it mean?
As far as how this will apply to the operation of Ubisoft, it is likely that this indicates a move to make their studios more agile. “Building on the Group’s vision, each pole will leverage its expertise to dive into the specificities of its audiences, game design and tech,” the release goes on to say. This could indicate that those specialising in franchises or platforms will receive more independence to operate as they see fit.
Given that Ubisoft has faced criticism over its company culture and has addressed plans to change it, this is likely to be the first major step in shifting the power dynamic of the company. One of the key areas of criticism was the company’s top-heavy structure. An interview from the Assassin's Creed fansite AC Sisterhood with anonymous employees included one under the pseudonym Cyril stating, “The overall system is still very vertical, with HQ taking [baffling] decisions and employees being hurt by stray bullets.”
Whilst companies like Ubisoft have faced criticism for allegedly enabling harassers and other serious misconduct, this marks a major step in addressing the underlying power inequality that management figures possess over employees. By making them more independent, if successful this initiative could go some way to rectifying this imbalance.
However, these changes were also addressed by another employee under the name Guillaume in the AC Sisterhood interviews. “It’s true that we have a new, very small but passionate D&I [Diversity and Inclusion] department who are working on cultural and systemic changes for the future. But that work is incredibly under-staffed and under-funded, and therefore painfully slow.”