Ubisoft’s toxic culture problems allegedly span more than a decade of abuse

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Ubisoft is again under fire for allegations of sexual harassment, misconduct, and endemic problems of sexism and racism across the company. In a report published today, Bloomberg extensively details inappropriate behavior by top executives and managers, particularly around chief creative officer Serge Hascoët.

The games industry is once again experiencing an outpouring of #MeToo stories. Over the past few weeks, Ubisoft in particular has been a hotbed for stories of systemic abuse. Several employees have already come forward publicly on Twitter to discuss harassment they endured at Ubisoft. A previous report from Kotaku pointed to top executives Tommy François and Maxime Béland, among others, as perpetrators of grossly over-the-line behavior, including one instance during which Béland allegedly put his hands around a female employee’s neck.

In Bloomberg’s story today, current and former staffers say that employees have made repeated claims to HR for years. They describe Ubisoft as a boys club, where employees like Hascoët would hold business meetings at strip clubs. Women shared stories of managers telling them to smile more and making grossly inappropriate comments about their bodies, and colleagues who sent them explicit messages and videos. According to Bloomberg, employees repeatedly reported abusers like Béland and François to HR; both were still promoted after claims were made.

The problems don’t stop there. Bloomberg reports:

In 2015 a group of staff in Sofia, Bulgaria, were watching a trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens featuring the actor John Boyega, who’s Black. “People just collectively went, ‘Hey, look, it’s a monkey,’” says Fey Vercuiel, a former designer on the team.

The full report, which includes many more details about the developer’s culture and reticence to create games with female leads, is worth a read. Earlier this month, Ubisoft held a digital event to reveal Far Cry 6 and talk about several of its upcoming projects, without addressing the ongoing problems at its studio. In a followup tweet, the company said that “we still have significant work to do and are committed to this process.”

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