A Liberation report (Google translated) says five former Ubisoft employees, including former chief creative officer Serge Hascoët and vice president of editorial and creative services Tommy François, have been arrested in France for questioning about allegations of sexual harassment and abuse while at the company.
The arrests were made following a more than year-long investigation into separate complaints made by two victims and Solidaires Informatique, a French game industry union that sued Ubisoft in 2021 for enabling and encouraging a culture of "institutional sexual harassment" at the company. The report says Paris Judicial Police interviewed approximately 50 current and former Ubisoft employees as part of its investigation.
Allegations of widespread sexual misconduct at Ubisoft first came to light in 2020, forcing multiple executives to step down as a result, including Hascoët, François, vice president Maxime Beland, managing director of Ubisoft's Canadian studios Yannis Mallat, and global head of human resources Cécile Cornet. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot quickly promised a "structural shift" to address workplace toxicity at the company, saying that changes needed to be implemented "at all levels of the organization." Guillemot did not step down himself, however, and remains at the head of Ubisoft.
A year later, Guillemot said that "important progress" toward changing the company's culture had been made, although many employees didn't agree: A day before Guillemot's statement, nearly 500 Ubisoft workers signed an open letter saying they had "seen nothing more than a year of kind words, empty promises, and an inability or unwillingness to remove known offenders."
Solidaires Informatique echoed that sentiment in a message posted to Twitter, saying that Ubisoft's response to the allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse at the company "was to let go certain high-profile harassers (rarely by dismissal) and to introduce a series of measures with no noticeable effect." It also claimed that HR employees who failed to stop the misconduct were left alone, "and were even promoted," and that Ubisoft allowed toxicity to flourish "because it was considered more profitable for the company to leave predators in place than to protect employees."
A lawyer representing the five former employees also pointed the finger at Ubisoft for institutionally encouraging workplace misconduct, telling Liberation that "beyond simple individual behavior, [the case] reveals systemic sexual violence."
"The company seems to have transformed into a big playground for creative people, where what they call a 'schoolboy atmosphere' was tolerated, where we play 'chat-bite', where we indulge in sexual gestures," attorney Maude Beckers said (Google translated). "At work, where in the evening women find themselves pinned to the ground or against the walls. HR knew all this and systematically suppressed business. What is exceptional in this matter is the complicity of the company's white-collar workers."
Ubisoft declined to comment on the arrests, saying in a statement provided to PC Gamer that it "has no knowledge of what has been shared and therefore can't comment."