XDefiant development reportedly derailed by ‘Boys Club,’ ‘toxic work culture’ 

Ubisoft FPS XDefiant’s multiple delays may have been caused by “missed deadlines, crunch, a toxic work environment, and multiple people leaving the project,” according to a new report by Insider Gaming’s Tom Henderson.

In the report, unnamed sources spoke of a “Boys Club” made up of “several executives and directors” on the project that have been the source of primary problems that have made the game miss several internal development milestones over the past few years.

XDefiant splash art
Tumultuous times. Image via Ubisoft

“At first, ‘The Boys Club’ was the name given to a select few individuals who caused constant problems for the game’s development, and the term was collectively agreed upon by some members of the team to feel a sense of comradery,” Henderson said. “But a couple of years later, that group grew to a dozen or so both male and female individuals, and its term has evolved into something much more bitter in the studio.”

Allegedly, it’s gotten so bad that the “unnecessary changes” made by the aforementioned club has increased the game’s development time by an estimated two years. The source pointed to a lack of work ethic, egos, and inexperienced employees “given directorial powers because of personal friendships” causing issues within the development teams.

Henderson says the environment fostered at Ubisoft has given some developers “responsibilities beyond their original job descriptions, told to work tedious hours of overtime to complete tasks, and are often shrugged aside when suggestions don’t align with the views of the higher-ups,” according to sources.

While the latest delay for XDefiant has been pinned on continuing netcode issues, sources also claimed “almost every very creative decision for the best part of two years quickly ended with the same rhetorical question – what would Call of Duty do?” This, in turn, has also lengthened development time. Henderson said XDefiant has not had any major changes since its last public playtest in June 2023, and that more features and changes to the game are being pushed back, with the intent to add them in with the game’s planned seasons.

A promotional screenshot of XDefiant
The game is very fun, but at what cost? Image via Ubisoft

In response to the article, Ubisoft sent Henderson a statement. “We take claims seriously and are committed to the well-being and inclusivity of all our team members,” Ubisoft said. “Our preventive approach includes promoting standards of respect and civility, awareness and training, and effective conflict resolution. We also have put in place strong reporting mechanisms – including an anonymous whistleblowing channel – and robust processes to deal with inappropriate behaviors, should they occur.”

While recent leaks have some players thinking XDefiant could finally be coming soon, the game still has no official release date or window.

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