At the start of the summer, as the world roiled from multiple crises, something unusual and essential happened in video games. It started with a Tweet, then another, one by one as people—mostly women—began speaking out regarding sexual harassment, abuse and other misconduct at Ubisoft.
Testimonials followed, then reporting in English and French, the native language of the Paris-headquartered publisher of some of the biggest video game franchises of all time. The accounts of misconduct stretched back for years, spanned the company’s studios around the globe, and reached its highest levels of power.
“So many of us have been waiting for this moment to happen for years,” a former Ubisoft developer recently told Kotaku, as we spoke to developers and others affected by Ubisoft about what these last seven weeks have amounted to.
“The floodgates started to open once at least one person stepped up and said, ‘Hey, I have a problem with this person, and this person works for Ubisoft,” the source recalled. “Then a lot of people felt safer to speak up.”
What followed then were condemnations, resignations and vows to do better. Heads rolled. Or at least some of them did.
Serge Hascoët, the company’s veteran chief creative officer overseeing the development of all of its games, resigned following an outpouring of allegations that Hascoët had also been overseeing the development of an atmosphere of sexism and harassment at the company’s headquarters.
Cécile Cornet, the company’s global head of human resources, left that role following reports of widespread mistrust in HR and its past handling of complaints around sexual harassment and misconduct. The department she oversaw was put under an audit to be conducted by an outside agency.
And Ubisoft’s centralized Editorial group, which is responsible for making key game development decisions and previously consisted of seven white men, will now be “revised” according to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. That move followed the resignation of one of its members and the departure of another, both following allegations of misconduct.
In these ways, the moment has appeared to be transformative.
But in other ways, it’s as if nothing has happened. Ubisoft chose not to mention the scandal at all, even to apologize, during its big summer gaming showcase on July 12, which according to the SuperData research group averaged just over 1 million viewers. Since then, the company’s social media channels have been filled with marketing for its major upcoming releases like Far Cry 6 and Watch Dogs: Legion. The games are still being hyped, and while fans have hundreds of questions about them, few, if any, that…
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