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Ubisoft Singapore probed by national watchdog after toxic workplace allegations

Ubisoft Singapore probed by national watchdog after toxic workplace allegations


Following reports of sexual harassment and bullying

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Ubisoft Singapore, the lead studio on Skull & Bones and co-developer of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, is being investigated by a national employment watchdog over allegations of misconduct at the studio. Singaporean newspaper The Straits Times reports that the country’s Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) began its investigation after receiving anonymous feedback about conditions at the studio.

The probe follows a wide-ranging report from Kotaku last month based on conversations with over 20 current and former employees about the studio’s allegedly toxic workplace environment. Sources said female employees were sometimes subjected to unwanted physical contact, and that subsequent investigations from HR would drag on for months and result in minor penalties. The studio is also alleged to suffer from racial disparities, with local employees unable to progress past a so-called “French ceiling” at the Paris-headquartered company.

One of many Ubisoft studios where misconduct has been reported

The Straits Times reports that such investigations usually involve interviews with affected parties, and can result in civic or criminal sanctions. Civil sanctions may include blocking the studio from applying for new work passes for foreign employees, while more serious infractions can lead to a criminal investigation. 

In a statement given to The Verge, Ubisoft said it was aware that feedback had been sent to the TAFEP, but said it couldn’t comment on the probe while discussions were still ongoing. “Every Ubisoft studio, including Ubisoft Singapore, strives to create and foster a culture that team members and partners can be proud of,” the company said. “We do not and will not tolerate discrimination or abuse. We celebrate our international culture and work to ensure our teams are deeply integrated into their respective local communities.”

In response to last month’s report from Kotaku, the company said 40 percent of expert and senior expert roles at Ubisoft Singapore are filled by Singaporeans or permanent residents. “Our objective is to continue to increase Singaporean leadership through various programs including a dedicated management learning path to accelerate the development of new leaders,” it said.

In an August 6th press conference, Ubisoft Singapore’s managing director Darryl Long, who took over leadership of the studio said that the company “[needs] to start to change the way we are perceived and the way we act internally as well,” The Straits Times reports.

The allegations of misconduct at Ubisoft Singapore have taken place against a backdrop of widespread reports of toxicity across Ubisoft as a whole. An anonymous survey of nearly 14,000 employees published in October revealed that as many as a quarter of them have seen or experienced workplace misconduct, with 20 percent saying they didn’t feel “fully respected or safe in the work environment.” However, despite several high profile employees being fired from the company, CEO Yves Guillemot has said that “real change will take time.

Meanwhile, competitor Activision Blizzard is currently embroiled in a sexual harassment controversy of its own, having been recently sued by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing.