Ubisoft apologized over the weekend for a cut scene in Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad, a mobile game released last week, which used a raised fist symbol associated with the Black Lives Matter movement to represent an in-game terrorist organization masquerading as a populist front.
The cut scene in question shows a world descending into chaos and introduces UMBRA as a “faceless organization that wants to build a new world order” and “a new threat [emerging] to take advantage of escalating civil unrest.” The group “claims to promote an egalitarian utopia to gain popular support, while behind the scenes… organiz[ing] deadly terrorist attacks to generate even more chaos and weaken governments at the cost of many innocent lives.”
While the intro’s entire over-the-top (and perhaps overly topical) concept was roundly mocked on social media over the weekend, the specific use of the raised fist symbol in UMBRA imagery drew condemnation from many.
“Imagery that appears in the opening video sequence of Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad featuring a ‘raised fist’ was insensitive and harmful in both its inclusion and how it was portrayed” the company wrote in a tweet Saturday. “We have listened to and appreciate the players and the broader community who have pointed it out and we apologize.”
A coming update will remove the “raised fist” imagery, Ubisoft said, as of Tuesday on Android and “as soon as possible” on iOS.
Bloomberg reports that many Ubisoft employees responded with anger to the cut scene’s imagery and its inclusion in the game. Creative Director Charlie Guillemot of Owlient—the developer behind Elite Squad—told employees the entire opening sequence would be removed from the game, according to Bloomberg’s sources. He added that “in the future, we will more rigorously review content produced and about to be released in order to help us avoid similar mistakes.”
Ubisoft was one of a number of video game companies that made statements and donations in the wake of George Floyd’s June killing, contributing $100,000 to the NAACP and Black Lives Matter. The company has also seen a number of high-level executives depart in recent months amid widespread complaints of sexual harassment and assault.