Only a few minutes ago, the Montreal police put an end to a delicate operation to secure the Ubisoft building which was potentially the target of a hostage-taking of about fifty people with a demand for ransom of 2 million of dollars. We learn that the operation is now over with no casualties to report. A police investigation has just started. Here is the summary of the events.

Ubisoft under pressure

Ubisoft Hostage Plug

© JOËL LEMAY / QMI AGENCY

So yesterday in the early evening in France (7:30 p.m. Paris time and 1:30 p.m. local time) that the Montreal police received a call from inside the Ubisoft Montreal building. An alert was given, a hostage-taking would be in progress with a dozen employees who would be held by five armed men.

A few minutes later, the police force is there, and it would be now about fifty employees who would be detained with a demand for ransom of two million dollars.

Ubisoft Hostage Plug

© Twitter / @InfosFrancaises

A dozen employees therefore took refuge on the roof of the building while waiting to be rescued. Faced with the gravity of the situation (and the ransom demanded), the police set up an important security device with a closure of the entire neighborhood. Fortunately, following the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the company is currently telecommuting.

After several hours, the first employees began to be evacuated from the studios. More than six hours later, around 1:30 a.m. (Paris time and 7:30 p.m. local time), the operation will end with no casualties to be deplored.

According to the first elements of the investigation, the Montreal police force as well as the Ubisoft studios were victims of the famous practice of “Swatting”. A telephone hoax which aims to move the special intervention teams for a case of force majeure when no threat is to be detected. A practice which is (unfortunately) very widespread in the streaming arena with many players who have been interrupted during their LIVE by Special Forces.

Threats against video game studios: An increasingly frequent case?

Square Enix, Insomniac Games, CD Projekt Red, here is a short list of studios that may have encountered big problems in recent months. Death threat to employees, entire teams or even the studio as a whole, more and more alarming cases are starting to spread around the video game industry. Sad proof that shows that behind this magnificent field of entertainment, many “extremists” continue to be completely disconnected from reality.

In the case of Ubisoft, we are indeed in a case of revenge. According to early feedback, the set-up of the false hostage-taking was launched by two different appeals. The probable reasons would be revenge against the French publisher for the quality of its latest games to date.

Ubisoft confirms the end of this traumatic event

It is therefore on Twitter that the official Ubisoft account confirms the end of the police operation with no victims. A traumatic experience for the employees.

We would like to salute the courage and the coolness shown by our teams today, our goal is to ensure their health and well-being. We also wish to thank the SPVM for its quick and professional response, which made it possible to get the situation under control. We are extremely relieved that the situation could be resolved without incident and we would like to thank you for your support and kind words.

Antoine Leduc-Labelle, the spokesperson for Ubisoft announced shortly after the event that a crisis unit will be set up to support the various Ubisoft employees who feel the need.

A crisis unit has been set up for employees and the Paris offices are aware of the situation. […] I am now in contact with the rooftop employees and they are doing well.

An ongoing investigation

To date, the Montreal police have not given more information. But the reason for this hoax would be revenge against the Ubisoft studio from at least two disappointed fans of the firm’s games. A long process begins to try to trace back to the source of the calls.