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Ubisoft’s “Interproject”

Jason Schreier reports for Kotaku on an oddity with how Ubisoft’s Montreal office is run:

Guillaume—who asked that I not use his real name for this story—soon found himself on the third floor of one of Ubisoft’s buildings in downtown Montreal. Today he describes athe building—called “160,” after its address—as a dark, grey office, with dim lighting and a low ceiling. As Guillaume started settling in, he found other Ubisoft employees playing Facebook games and watching movies, essentially doing nothing as they waited for the company to give them new assignments. For the days, weeks, or maybe even months to come, they were in “limbo,” as Guillaume put it.

This is “interproject,” a little-known department at Ubisoft Montreal that houses developers who are between games.

On the surface, it sounds like an interesting idea: instead of laying off developers between games—which is disturbingly common—keep paying your devs between projects and give them a break.

Give it a read. It’s really rather fascinating. But there’s this:

One particularly strange wrinkle is the way in which interproject employees get new jobs. In order to get on another project, according to the people who worked there, interproject staff have to apply for new openings within the company. They already work for Ubisoft Montreal, but in order to find actual work, they often need to go through applications and interviews as if they’re coming in from elsewhere.

Every so often, according to the people I talked to, Ubisoft will clear out interproject and let go of employees who have not found a new position in the studio.

And:

However, one thing has remained unclear for many staff: how or why people are sent to interproject in the first place. “I know a girl who’s never been at 160 in her eight years here,” said one employee. “And I know other people who have been there multiple times.”

Sounds to me like they put employees who aren’t good fits with their teams or don’t produce the way they want there and give them a chance to find another team. If they can’t within a certain amount of time, they’re done.

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