Assassin’s Creed Valhalla creative director fired after misconduct investigation
A hot potato: The latest casualty in Ubisoft’s struggle to clean up its “toxic workplace” has fallen. The company fired Ashraf Ismail from his position as the creative director for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The former Assassin’s Creed Origins director is accused of “having extramarital affairs under false pretenses.”
Ashraf Ismail was one of several Ubisoft employees who stepped down and took a leave of absence in June when claims of “misconduct and inappropriate behavior” surfaced. A fan had accused him of lying about being married so he could pursue a relationship with her.
While Ismail was on leave, Ubisoft investigated the claims and found them to be true. Kotaku obtained an internal memo confirming the allegations and announcing Ismail’s firing.
“Following an investigation by an external firm, it was determined that Ashraf’s employment with Ubisoft had to be terminated,” reads the document.
The company withheld the details of the investigation citing confidentiality concerns.
This person is married. When he starts a relationship with you, know he’s married. This is why he doesn’t want to talk on the phone or facetime or have things sent to his home. His marriage has been confirmed by 3 people. I was with him for a year on and off before finding out. pic.twitter.com/eomqLCXZTu
— ✨dani porter bridges✨ (@matronedea) June 21, 2020
The conflict started on June 21, when a streamer named Dani Porter Bridges accused Ismail on Twitter of lying about being married to initiate a romantic relationship with her. She claims to have spoken with several other women in the gaming community who’ve had similar experiences with him.
Three days later, Ismail issued a tweet saying he was stepping down from his duties at Ubisoft to “deal with his personal issues.” He has since deleted his Twitter account (screen capture below).
Ismail started with Ubisoft in 2009. Before Valhalla, he served as co-director for Assassin’s Creed Origins. He is not the first to fall in the Ubisoft dustup.
Vice Presidents Maxime Béland and Tommy François were placed on disciplinary leave in June pending an investigation into allegations of a “pattern of abuse.” They have since resigned. Later that month, three more senior executives at the company stepped down from their positions. Two of them resigned, and one was moved to a new post.
The ax has been falling as part of CEO Yves Guillemot’s efforts to clean up the company. The Verge notes that last month, Guillemot promised sweeping changes to address the company’s toxic culture. These efforts include creating a new position to oversee workplace culture and giving bonuses to team leaders who can demonstrate the ability to foster a “positive and inclusive work environment.”
Image credit: Marko Aliaksandr