December 2022 was not a positive month for the European video game industry. According to data from Games Sales Data, cited by GamesIndustry.biz, that month 27.4 million video games were sold across Europe, a drop of 13% compared to the previous year. On the other hand, the European Parliament voted this week in favor of taking measures to protect “video game players from addiction and other manipulative practices”, such as the so-called ‘gold-farming’, the practice of selling video game items for real money.
It seems that in Europe the video game industry, which will grow globally to 321 billion dollars in 2026 according to a study cited by the World Economic Forum, is going through a bit of a slump right now. Another example of this is Ubisoft, whose workers in France have announced this week that they will go on strike next Friday, January 27, from two to six in the afternoon.
Workers’ message. According to a statement published in Twitter by the Solidaires Informatique Jeu Vidéo union, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot recently sent an email to workers warning of a “worrisome future” for the firm and asking employees to “be especially careful in their spending ”.
The employer also used some expressions such as “organizational adjustments”, terms that the union interprets in the circular as “staff reductions”, “study closures”, “salary cuts” and “camouflaged layoffs”.
The union does not trust. In addition, Solidairse Informatique Jeu Vidéo accuses Guillemot in its statement of trying to blame the workers for the firm’s situation, expecting them to give their all and be as efficient as possible. The union, however, understands that behind these words are hidden “overtime, pressure from managers and work stress.”
exhausted workers. At the same time, the organization recalls some issues, such as that salaries have remained the same in recent years, while inflation has been increasing. In addition, they point out that the four-day work week has not yet been established and that measures have not yet been implemented in relation to workers who ended up exhausted in some productions such as ‘Just Dance’ and ‘Mario’.
salary increase. Additionally, the union raises four demands. In the first place, an “immediate” salary increase of 10% to compensate for inflation, something possible, according to the organization, if “the hundreds of millions of euros obtained by Tencent”, the Chinese multinational that owns Ubisoft, are used.
Four day work week. Secondly, wage earners demand the establishment of the four-day work week without salary reduction. Workers in the video game industry often experience high levels of stress, which is why some companies in the sector, such as Blackbird, have seen the four-day week as an opportunity to solve this problem.
more transparency. Thirdly, the workers demand greater “transparency in the evolution of the workers, both locally and globally”. This issue, in fact, is the order of the day: the EU is working on a European Salary Transparency Law by which companies will have to inform workers about the criteria established to establish their salary.
Against abusive policies. Finally, the union demands “a strong commitment against concealed dismissals” by the company, as well as “a condemnation of the abusive policies of managers who push workers to present their resignation.”
It is not the first conflict in Ubisoft. In relation to the abusive policies of the managers, Solidaires Informatique Jeu Vidéo has already filed a collective complaint against the company for “institutional sexual harassment”. As a result, some managers were fired, but others remained in their position.
Industry workers organize. This call for a strike has been made at a time when the mobilization and organization of workers in the video game industry are increasing. In this sense, in December 2022, Activision Blizzard employees voted in favor of forming a union, and earlier this month of January, Microsoft recognized the unionization of hundreds of its workers, who joined the CWA, one of the major unions in the United States.
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