Five former employees of the French video game company Ubisoft are in police custody. The arrests occurred over the past two days and followed an investigation into allegations of sexual assault and harassment by employees.
According to a report by French news agency Libération, two of those arrested are Ubisoft’s former chief creative officer Serge Hascoet and former vice president of editorial and creative services Tommy Francois. The latter was suspended by Ubisoft in June 2020, along with former creative director and editorial vice president Maxime Beland, after being accused of at least three allegations of misconduct.
Beland resigned from the company shortly after the allegations emerged, and it is unclear whether any action was taken or investigated by authorities related to the claims made against him. As for Hascoet, employees accused the former creative director of failing to address the allegations against Francois or take disciplinary action. Ubisoft fired Hascoet in 2020.
The three other former Ubisoft employees arrested this week were not named in the Liberation report.
The allegations of misconduct first came to light in June 2020 after Ubisoft employees reported harassment and sexual assault against senior employees at the company on Twitter.
Allegations against Ubisoft’s toxic work culture and its resulting commitment to combating sexual harassment have resurfaced after this week’s arrests, recalling the company’s history of tolerating sexual harassment, prosecutors said. In 2020, there were calls from employees and the public for Ubisoft to take steps to improve its workplace culture.
After the company admitted it had “fallen short” on sexual harassment allegations and vowed to do better, it implemented changes across the organization and in internal processes and procedures. Ubisoft said it did this to create a safe, inclusive and respectful work environment for all team members by introducing an online reporting tool, investigating allegations, taking action against perpetrators, training employees and revising the company’s code of conduct.
A year later, the company was accused of not doing enough to rid the workplace of toxins and of responding too slowly to allegations of abuse. It responded by saying that further initiatives were underway and would be implemented in the following months. Ubisoft further stated that it is committed to strengthening its culture and values by ensuring team members are respected, heard and valued in the workplace.
Today’s news of the former executives’ arrests has cast a slight shadow over the release of Assassin’s Creed Mirage, one of Ubisoft’s biggest games of the year. Scheduled for release on October 5th, Ubisoft expects the game to be the commercial success it needs (here’s our review) after facing challenges such as declining sales, game delays and a loss of consumer confidence in dealing with the allegations had to contend with misconduct.