At gaming giant Ubisoft, major executive changes after allegations of harassment, misconduct

Christel Deskins

Ubisoft, the publisher behind video game brands such as “Assassin’s Creed,” “Watch Dogs,” “Far Cry” and “Just Dance,” revealed Saturday that a number of top executives would be stepping down from the company. The changes come after Ubisoft was accused of an array of sexual and workplace misconduct, which had […]

Ubisoft, the publisher behind video game brands such as “Assassin’s Creed,” “Watch Dogs,” “Far Cry” and “Just Dance,” revealed Saturday that a number of top executives would be stepping down from the company. The changes come after Ubisoft was accused of an array of sexual and workplace misconduct, which had already resulted in a resignation and a number of staffers for the company being placed on leave.

Chief creative officer Serge Hascoët is resigning effective immediately, the Paris-based company said in a statement Saturday. His position will be filled by Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft chief executive and co-founder, who has pledged an overhaul of creative teams.

Yannis Mallat, managing director of Ubisoft’s Canadian studios, is also leaving the company, effective immediately. “The recent allegations that have come to light in Canada against multiple employees make it impossible for him to continue in this position,” the company said.

READ MORE: The game industry’s existential quest for a less toxic, more inclusive space

In addition, the company is “restructuring and strengthening” its human resources department and has begun a search for a new global head of human resources. Cécile Cornet, who currently heads the department, is stepping down from her role. The company said it would adapt its human resources department to better address what it deemed the “new challenges of the game industry.” The company said it is “in the final steps of hiring a top international management consulting firm to audit and reshape its HR procedures and policies, as previously announced.”

“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,” said Guillemot in a company-distributed release.

Late last month, several high-ranking Ubisoft staffers were placed on leave after online allegations sparked a still-ongoing investigation of a range of sexual impropriety claims, many of which were detailed by the website Kotaku. After Guillemot outlined several steps on July 2 for making “fundamental change” to Ubisoft’s workplace culture, an editorial vice president, Maxime Béland, resigned.

Béland and Tommy Francois, vice president of editorial and creative services, who is on disciplinary leave, were part of an all-white male editorial team, which the company has now pledged to “revise.”

The allegations are part of a range of accusations including sexual, emotional and professional abuse that have dominated talk in the gaming community this summer. Dozens of streamers on the gaming site Twitch have been singled out, as detailed by the New York Times, as have executives in the esports talent management space. The old-fashioned tabletop arena hasn’t been exempt either. Cards Against Humanity was subject to a Polygon investigation into claims of a toxic workplace, resulting in its cofounder stepping down.

Taken as a whole, the past month in gaming has pulled the curtain back on a business and a media subculture that has struggled to mature beyond its rebellious, boyish and boorish stereotypes.

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