Ubisoft’s editorial Vice President Maxime Béland resigned Friday during ongoing investigations after allegations of sexual harassment arose concerning Béland and others at the videogame company.
Fellow editorial Vice President Tommy François has been placed on disciplinary leave during the investigations, and a third, unnamed employee at Ubisoft Toronto has been fired for “engaging in behaviors that do not align with what is expected of Ubisoft employees,” according to a company notice obtained by Kotaku.
In an in-depth report by Kotaku, anonymous sources from Ubisoft Toronto described a toxic work environment in which men were more often given substantial promotions and commonly ignore personal boundaries with women, worsened by the studio’s party and drinking culture.
Those interviewed for the report viewed the location’s human resources department to be unreliable and dismissive of any claims, which discouraged many from filing any complaints at all. This was especially true concerning Béland’s inappropriate behavior, since the interim head of HR also happened to be Béland’s wife.
Among other incidents of inappropriate comments and behavior around women, the report also describes Béland intentionally choking a female coworker at a company party as part of what she called a “creepy demonstration,” which nobody there reported or meaningfully addressed. Béland later apologized to the coworker, but no further action was taken until recently.
Managing Director Alexandre Parizeau called a meeting to address the rising complaints concerning Béland and others, the report states, which some interviewed said was a respectful and important first step. A statement from Ubisoft PR said the studio and company would be taking “significant, tangible actions to improve” its toxic culture, but what those changes are remain to be seen.
Ubisoft Toronto is currently working remotely on Watch Dogs: Legion, which has the possibility of being shown during Sunday’s “Ubisoft Connect” presentation. The game will release on current and next-gen platforms at an unspecified date.
This is the latest incident in a reckoning for the games industry, in which Twitch, Facebook, Paradox Interactive, Cards Against Humanity, Techland, Gato Studio, Bungie, IGN and more have faced allegations of sexual harassment and assault at their companies, usually against women.