Call for an unprecedented strike by all of its staff in France, stock market crash, canceled games... The French video game giant Ubisoft has been experiencing a multiple crisis since the announcement, in mid-January, of the lowering of its financial forecast for the full fiscal year 2022-2023.
The union of video game workers (STJV) and Solidaires Informatique have launched a "call for a strike" by all French entities of Ubisoft, this Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., to denounce the managerial practices of management. .
📄📢 In anticipation of tomorrow's strike at Ubisoft, more than 600 leaflets distributed on different sites across France (Montreuil, Montpellier, Lyon,...).
The receipt of the leaflet and the appeal by Ubisoft workers is very encouraging!
See you tomorrow ✊ pic.twitter.com/aobKSV6wcp
— Union of Video Game Workers (@stjv_fr) January 26, 2023
In the memory of a trade unionist, it is the "first" strike of such magnitude in the history of Ubisoft, since the creation, in 1986, of the publisher at the origin of the series "Assassin's Creed", underlines Marc Rutschlé, union section representative at Solidaires Informatique.
This protest movement is quite rare in the video game industry, recently marked by the five-week strike by publisher Activision Blizzard employees at the end of 2021, which resulted last May in the creation of the first union within the company. American company.
Read alsoVideo games: how the French studio Ubisoft became a global giant
What set fire to the powder at Ubisoft?
An internal email sent by the CEO, Yves Guillemot, referring to "structural adjustments" to come while Ubisoft has committed to the markets to achieve 200 million euros in savings over two years.
“For us, that means redundancy plans.
And when we talk about saving money, that means firing people and not increasing the salaries of those who stay.
Knowing that we are being put under pressure by saying
it's up to you to do better
”, castigates Marc Rutschlé.
In their press release, the unions demand in particular “the opening of wage negotiations”.
A harassment scandal targeting several former executives of the company, which has 18,000 employees worldwide, during the summer of 2020 also left its mark, eroding employee confidence in their management.
“At the time of the takeover attempt by Vivendi
, the teams were mobilizing to prevent Bolloré from buying Ubisoft.
If that happened today, I don't think there would be any mobilization,” says Marc Rutschlé.
Sales expected to decline by more than 10%
On the financial level, the French publisher has also fallen heavily on the stock market since the announcement, in mid-January, of the lowering of its financial forecasts for the whole of the 2022-2023 financial year, due to a context of "deteriorating macroeconomic conditions".
Ubisoft has revised its revenue growth target for 2022-2023 downwards, with sales down "by more than 10%" compared to the previous year, while it had initially communicated a target of growth “greater than 10%”.
As a result, its share price returned to its 2015-2016 lows.
“We are disoriented by the extent of the difficulties encountered by Ubisoft”, reacted in a note Emmanuel Matot, financial analyst at Oddo BHF, downgrading his recommendation on the title from “outperformance” to “neutral”.
"Ubisoft does not convince", explains to Charles-Louis Planade, analyst at the stock market and investment bank Midcap Partners.
"There is a clear distrust at the management level, given the many warnings on the results but also by the
made by the Guillemot family with Tencent".
The founders of the French video game champion, the Guillemot family, sealed an alliance with the Chinese giant Tencent in early September to secure their hold on Ubisoft, in a video game market in full consolidation.
Another element against it: the umpteenth postponement of the game “Skull and Bones”, initially scheduled for November 2022, while Ubisoft also indicated that it had stopped the development of three “unannounced” projects, in addition to the four stops already announced. in July 2022. "This is not a unique case in the sector, in particular because of the Covid, but we have the impression that at Ubisoft it is much more marked than at other publishers", underlines Charles-Louis Planade.
“Afterwards, we must not forget that the memory of the market is short.
If the group releases an extraordinary year next year or the year after, everyone will have forgotten.