Early Tuesday morning, Bloomberg Businessweek’s Jason Schreier published his investigation into the toxic environment of alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault at Ubisoft. More than a dozen people have come forward with public claims, the report says.
One of the key people accusations were leveled at is Serge Hascoët — now the former Chief Creative Officer of the company who could literally approve or shut down any project.
According to allegations, Hascoët regularly held meetings in strip clubs, made obscene remarks to and about female employees, and gave employees cakes containing marijuana without their knowledge.
The toxic culture of sexism pervaded the company’s attitude toward female characters in their games, current and former employees allege. They claim the marketing department and Hascoët told them games about women are harder to sell and demanded them to make the following changes to projects:
- In Assassin’s Creed Syndicate “an early outline of the script gave equal screen time to the twin protagonists, Jacob and Evie” — but Evie’s screen time was cut until Jacob “dominated” the game.
- Assassin’s Creed Origins “was originally going to injure or kill off its male hero, Bayek, early in the story and give the player control of his wife, Aya” — but Aya’s role was shrunk and the focus put on Bayek.
- In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which features siblings Kassandra and Alexios, “the team originally proposed making the sister the only playable character… until they were told that wasn’t an option.” Both the sister and brother ended up as playable characters in the game.
After the sexual misconduct allegations came out in June, several of the accused executives have resigned or been terminated. Among those who resigned include Serge Hascoët and Vice President Editorial Maxime Béland, who ran the Toronto office.
Earlier this month, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot publicly released an internal memo to employees about measures to improve the work environment. For example, there is an anonymous platform where employees can complain about violations of the rules of conduct.
Despite Schreier’s report where employees claim that their reports to HR of sexual misconduct had been ignored for years, Guillemot states that Ubisoft is committed to addressing the problem.
“The situations that some of you have experienced or witnessed are absolutely not acceptable,” Guillemot wrote. “No one should ever feel harassed or disrespected at work, and the types of inappropriate behavior we have recently learned about cannot and will not be tolerated.”