‘Assassins Creed’ and ‘Tom Clancy’s’ game franchise publisher announces a series of senior management resignations amidst CEO pledge for fundamental change in workplace culture.
Ubisoft, publisher of some of the gaming world’s most popular franchises, include Assassin’s Creed and Tom Clancy’s, this past Saturday announced the resignation of three senior executives following accusations of sexual harassment and a toxic workplace that have dogged the company for months.
Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoët, Global Head of HR Cécile Cornet, and CEO of Canadian studios Yannis Mallat all stepped down July 11 in the aftermath of the July 2 announcement by Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot that investigations into all allegations, and a restructuring of HR procedures, were in the works.
In a recent report by French newspaper Libération (translated on the Twitter feed of Thomas Bidaux), Hascoët was accused of being valued within Ubisoft for “his toxicity, his misogyny, his homophobia, and his management style about crushing others. For his libidinous tendencies” He was also accused of drugging Ubisoft employees without their knowledge by giving them space cakes (cakes infused with cannabis). In another report of an outburst about a company VP who demanded a lunch meeting, he supposedly said, “…this ‘bad f*ck’ was hindering his creativity and that someone should open her mind by ‘[f*cking her] from behind’ and ‘share her around until she gets it’”
Late last month, according to the L.A. Times, several high-ranking Ubisoft executives were placed on leave following a series of allegations of sexual impropriety, many detailed by the videogame website Kotaku. After Guillemot outlined several steps for making “fundamental change” in his July 2 announcement, Maxime Béland, an editorial Vice President, resigned.
In a company release, Guillemot stated, “Ubisoft has fallen short in its obligation to guarantee a safe and inclusive workplace environment for its employees. This is unacceptable, as toxic behaviors are in direct contrast to values on which I have never compromised — and never will. I am committed to implementing profound changes across the company to improve and strengthen our workplace culture.”
Joe Parlock, writing yesterday in Forbes, said, “While Cornet is not at the center of any known allegations herself, the Human Resources department at Ubisoft has been a recurring theme in allegations made against other employees. For instance, allegations of abuse by Ubisoft Toronto employee Andrien Gbinigie were passed on to HR by two separate people, however it allegedly decided not to investigate them any further.”
In a PC Gamer report published last week, a former Ubisoft Toronto staffer told the site, “The rampant use of alcohol and parties as a retention technique certainly added to—if not created—the permissive culture at Ubisoft Toronto around sexual harassment.” The piece went on to note that on June 26, 2020, 100 Ubisoft Toronto employees sent a letter to studio management citing “grave concerns about ongoing reported harassment and an inability to feel safe or protected within our own studio.”
Ubisoft, with over 15,000 employees worldwide, is the fifth largest publicly traded game company in North America and Europe, in terms of revenue and market capitalization; the French company reported revenues of €1.594 billion for the 12 months ending March 31, 2020.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.