Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human developer Quantic Dream came under fire earlier this year over allegations of workplace sexism, homophobia, and inappropriate behavior. Today, Kotaku reported that in response the studio has filed lawsuits against two of the three French outlets who reported on those conditions.
Quantic Dream management angrily denied the claims in the reports filed by Le Monde and Mediapart, who are named in the suit, and Canard PC, which apparently is not. Studio founder David Cage called the allegations "ridiculous, absurd, and grotesque" when they first came out: "You want to talk about homophobia? I work with Ellen Page, who fights for LGBT rights. You want to talk about racism? I work with Jesse Williams, who fights for civil rights in the USA," he said (via Eurogamer). "Judge me by my work."
Co-founder Guillaume de Fondaumière similarly asserted that the claims were "absolutely false," and then promised in a followup statement sent to Kotaku that he would "take all possible legal actions to defend my honor."
The lawsuit relates to a collaborative investigation into working conditions in the game industry conducted by Le Monde, Mediapart, and Canard PC.
"Since September 2017, two journalists from each publication have worked directly together, sharing approaches, witnesses and information. This crossover of views and skills between a video game magazine and a investigation specialist, serving a joint study, is to our knowledge a first," Canard PC explained in its English-language coverage, which includes NSFW images. "Each media outlet writes its own articles, but we try to coordinate, if possible, themes and dates of publication. For this story only, we also worked in parallel with our colleagues from Le Monde."
The specifics of the suit haven't been revealed, but both Le Monde and Mediapart confirmed to Kotaku that they are being sued. William Audureau, who reported on the story for Le Monde, said his report was "written sincerely, following a well-documented, thorough investigation, respectful of the principle that both sides must be heard," and added, "We stick with our information."
We didn't report on the initial story because it's been more than a decade since Quantic Dream released a game on PC, but this kind of legal action is unprecedented as far as we can recall, and has potentially broad implications.
Even if the media outlets ultimately prevail in defending the veracity of their work, the costs involved in defending the legal action could make other, smaller outlets think twice before publishing negative reports on other studios and publishers. As such, it's definitely something to keep an eye on in the coming months.