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Tech News – Ubisoft: Sexual misconduct probe sees three senior heads resign


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Ubisoft: Sexual misconduct probe sees three senior heads resign

An enormous Ubisoft sign is suspended in the air at a busy trade show floor, crowded with people and displays showcasing games

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Ubisoft’s major presence at E3 2019

Three senior executives at game-maker Ubisoft have stepped down amid an investigation into sexual misconduct.

The French company’s chief creative officer, Canadian studios head, and global HR chief had all left their roles, Ubisoft said.

Ubisoft is a major player in the games industry, best known for the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

The resignations came just before its annual showcase of new games, which made no mention of the allegations.

In a tweet ahead of the event, Ubisoft said: “Because all the content has been pre-recorded, we wanted to recognise that the issues we’re currently dealing with won’t be addressed directly in the show.”

The company has already seen one of its most senior executives depart and another placed on administrative leave.

Many of the allegations have been made anonymously online, with a particular focus on the company’s Canadian studios.

Ubisoft has not publicly made any specific allegations against its own staff as its investigation continues.

But Both French media and the gaming press have published allegations the company ignored complaints of sexual misconduct and had a culture of harassment, sometimes fuelled by alcohol consumption at company events.

Top brass

Ubisoft said the latest three executives to step down “are a part of the comprehensive work the company is doing to improve and strengthen its workplace culture”.

Chief creative officer Serge Hascoët “has chosen to resign from his position” with immediate effect, the company said.

Mr Hascoët was widely seen as a key figure in the company, with games journalist Jason Scheier calling him “the most powerful creative force” with the power to single-handedly “greenlight or cancel a project”.

Canadian studios managing director Yannis Mallat is also leaving the company immediately.

“The recent allegations that have come to light in Canada against multiple employees make it impossible for him to continue in this position,” Ubisoft said.

And global head of HR Cécile Cornet “has decided to step down from this role, as she believes it is in the best interest of the company’s unity”.

‘Complete overhaul’

As part of its internal investigation, Ubisoft is bringing in an external consultancy to audit its HR process.

Ubisoft’s chief executive and co-founder Yves Guillemot said the company had fallen short of its responsibility to employees.

“This is unacceptable, as toxic behaviours are in direct contrast to values on which I have never compromised,” he said.

Mr Guillemot is also taking over Mr Hascoët’s creative leadership role, and promises “a complete overhaul of the way in which the creative teams collaborate”.

‘Inappropriate behaviour’

A week earlier, Ubisoft vice-president Maxime Beland resigned from his role amid allegations of misconduct.

Ubisoft said at the time it was continuing to investigate allegations against Mr Beland.

And another vice-president, Tommy François, had been placed on leave.

It comes as the wider gaming community deals with allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct.

Last month, Twitch dealt with a wave of complaints against popular streamers on its platform, while the fighting game community saw an outpouring of allegation s of inappropriate behaviour by well known figures.

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