Three years after allegations of sexual misconduct inside Assassin’s Creed publisher Ubisoft first surfaced, French authorities are moving ahead with a criminal investigation. Five former executives were detained for questioning on October 3, including former VP Tommy Francois, and CEO Yves Guillemot’s former right-hand head of creative, Serge Hascoët.
The arrests were first reported by the French newspaper Libération, and have been corroborated by Kotaku’s own sources. As part of the detentions, the former executives will give testimony to law enforcement that could be used in an eventual criminal trial. The high-profile action being taken regarding allegations that first came to light in 2020 follows a multi-year investigation involving interviews with over 50 current and former employees, Libération reports.
Hascoët, a 32-year veteran at Ubisoft, had long been in charge of the creative direction of games, franchises, and the company itself as its chief creative officer. Developers across the company were regularly required to present progress on their games to him and others at the publisher’s Paris headquarters, with his feedback determinging the life or death of a project, as well as whether minute gameplay features should be added or abandoned. François, a VP who reported to Hascoët, oversaw Ubisoft’s World Texture Facility (known as “WTF”), a massive database of artwork and onsite research from across the globe that teams relied on for inspiration in crafting the company’s biggest blockbusters like Far Cry and Ghost Recon.
Reports by Libération and Bloomberg accused both men of sexual misconduct and contributing to a misogynistic “boys club” mentality at the Paris office. Hasocet would allegeldy make sexual comments about employees and growl at them in a suggesetive manner during meetings, while François was accused of trying to forcibly kiss a female colleague at a work party while another male colleague held her from behind. Both men departed from the company in July 2020 right after the reports were published, but Ubisoft never confirmed if either one of them was actually fired.
While far from the only employees accused of sexual misconduct at the company, they were two of the most high-profile. In June 2021, the French union Solidaires Informatique Jeu Vidéo, along with multiple victims, filed complaints with the Bobigny criminal court against the company as a whole as well as Guillemot and then head of human resources, Cecile Cornet, of “institutional harassment” for failing to maintain a safe work environment and, in some instances, allegedly looking the other way. According to Libération’s earlier report, Cornet told some staff at Ubisoft that “Yves [Guillemot] is OK with toxic management, as long as the results of these managers exceed their level of toxicity.”
Depending on the outcome of the interrogations, the former executives, including Hascoët, could be forced to present their testimony before a judge. It’s unclear if any current executives at the company, like Guillemot, have been questioned by police as part of the investigation so far. The company has mostly tried to turn the page on the workplace reckoning, and is currently preparing to release Assassin’s Creed Mirage on October 5, the first new game in the blockbuster franchise since 2020.
“Ubisoft has no knowledge of what has been shared and therefore can’t comment,” a spokesperson for the company told Kotaku.