Last Updated on July 14, 2020 by Mark P.
Serge Hascoet, Yannis Mallat, and Cecile Cornet, all of whom are senior executives at Ubisoft, are stepping down from their positions due to significant accusations of abuse and the promotion of a toxic work environment. These accusations are against the individuals of course, but are also aimed at the company as a whole.
In a statement, Ubisoft confirmed the departures of the three executives, claiming that Hascoet has “chosen to resign from his position as chief creative officer, effective immediately.” Although he didn’t have as much of a public presence as some other Ubisoft executives, Hascoet did have a great deal of influence within the company itself, with the ability to essentially green light game development projects and even make critical creative decisions for games in development. Naturally this meant that he had a great deal of influence over Ubisoft staff members as well, and many people have revealed that he abused that influence to the extent that the work environment itself was becoming toxic. Hascoet’s temporarily vacant role will be filled Yves Guillemot, who is the co-founder of Ubisoft and its current CEO, though this will only be the case during the interim.
Yannis Mallat was the managing director of the Canadian studios of Ubisoft, and he too will be stepping down from that position and leaving the company. Ubisoft’s statement on the matter is as follows: “The recent allegations that have come to light in Canada against multiple employees make it impossible for him to continue in this position.” Similar to Hascoet, Mallat is also being accused of enabling an abusive culture for the workplace that created an extremely toxic environment for all employees.
When asked for some extra clarity on this matter, a Ubisoft spokesperson did confirm that Hascoet is leaving Ubisoft alongside Mallat.
On top of those two, global head of HR Cecile Cornet will be replaced as well. According to the statement she “decided to step down from this role, as she believes it is in the best interest of the company’s unity.” Reports from Ubisoft itself reveals that the lead-up to the recent allegations suggests that Cornet also bore a great deal or responsibility as far as fostering a toxic work culture and allowing the people abusing their power to continue doing so.
“The company is restructuring and strengthening its HR function in order to adapt it to the new challenges of the video game industry. Ubisoft is in the final steps of hiring a top international management consulting firm to audit and reshape its HR procedures and policies, as previously announced,” the statement says.
But while Cornet will be stepping down from her current position, Ubisoft made no statement about her actually leaving the company, so it is likely that she will continue to work within Ubisoft to some extent, though there’s no way to know in what capacity that will be.
The entire announcement is in reference to the structural shift within Ubisoft that the company provided general details for on June 2nd. On that day, Guillemot stated that fundamental changes need to take place at every level of the company. “We are not looking for a quick fix, but rather a structural shift at Ubisoft that fully aligns with our values–values that do not tolerate toxic behaviors and where everyone feels safe to speak out,” Guillemot said. “We must do everything we can to ensure no one is in these situations ever again.”
Over the course of the past few weeks, Ubisoft has been at the epicenter of many accusations regarding abuse in the video game industry. The three executives mentioned thus far are not the only ones to resign from their positions lately, with vice president Maxime Beland doing the same for his position in the company’s editorial team after being accused of sexual harassment and abuse. Tommy François, the co-vice president, has also been placed on disciplinary leave as a second investigation into accusations against him is being conducted.
Other members of Ubisoft are facing a similar situation as well. This includes the Watch Dogs product and brand marketer Andrien Gbinigie, who was accused of engaging in a sexual assault in June. Gbinigie worked place of work was Ubisoft Toronto. That said, Ubisoft has not confirmed if that employee has been fired, so it is unclear if an investigation is taking place or if anything is being done at all. Similarly, the creative director of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Ashraf Ismail also, resigned from his position and left Ubisoft on June 24 due to allegations regarding infidelity.
As a response to these accusations, Ubisoft made a statement back on June 25, stating: “We have started by launching investigations into the allegations with the support of specialized external consultants,” the studio said. “Based on the outcomes, we are fully committed to taking any and all appropriate disciplinary action. As these investigations are ongoing, we can’t comment further. We are also auditing our existing policies, processes, and systems to understand where these have broken down, and to ensure we can better prevent, detect, and punish inappropriate behavior.”
Considering how many positions are being compromised within Ubisoft lately, it’s unclear if all of this will have some sort of notable impact on the company’s future plans. So far, there’s no reason to think that any games will be delayed, even though important positions on the development team for those games have been compromised. That said, it’s still a possibility that this could have some effect on Ubisoft’s immediate future, at least until they come up with some sort of solution.
Either way, their reputation is certainly taking a hit, and while they are taking steps to correct the errors of the recent past, it will likely be some time before they will be regaining the decorum they may have held before all of these scandals and allegations in the upper echelons of their company. But how long that will take exactly is impossible to tell.