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Former Ubisoft execs arrested in sexual harassment case ahead of Assassin's Creed Mirage's release

The five arrests follow a year-long investigation into sexual assault and harassment allegations.

Five people formerly employed by French video game company Ubisoft are in police custody. The arrests occurred over the last two days and stem from an investigation into sexual assault and harassment allegations made by staffers.

According to a report from French news outlet Liberation, two of the arrestees are Ubisoft's former chief creative officer Serge Hascoet and ex-vice president of editorial and creative services Tommy Francois. The latter was suspended by Ubisoft in June 2020 along with the former creative director and editorial vice president Maxime Beland, after being accused of at least three claims of misconduct.

Beland resigned from the company not long after the accusations came to light, and it is unclear if any actions regarding the claims made against him have been taken or looked into by authorities. As for Hascoet, staffers accused the former head of creative of culpability for neither addressing allegations made against Francois nor taking disciplinary action. Ubisoft fired Hascoet in 2020.

The three other former Ubisoft employees arrested this week were not named in the Liberation report.

The misconduct allegations first came to light in June 2020 after Ubisoft employees took to Twitter to call out acts of harassment and sexual assault against high-ranking staffers at the company.

Claims against Ubisoft's toxic workplace culture and its subsequent commitment to combating sexual harassment have resurfaced after this week's arrests by recalling the company's history of tolerating sexual harassment, according to accusers. In 2020, calls from employees and the public were made asking that Ubisoft take steps to improve its workplace culture.

After the company admitted it had "fallen short" with regards to sexual harassment allegations and promised to do better, it implemented changes across its organization, internal processes and procedures. Ubisoft said it did this to create a safe, inclusive, and respectful working environment for all team members by launching an online reporting tool, investigating allegations, taking action against perpetrators, providing employee training, and revamping the company's code of conduct.

A year later, the company was accused of not doing enough to rid the workplace of toxic management and being slow to respond to abuse allegations. It responded by stating additional initiatives were underway and rolling out within the following months. Ubisoft further stated it was committed to strengthening its culture and values by ensuring team members were respected, heard, and valued in the workplace.

Today's news of the former executives' arrests has cast a slight shadow over the release of Assassin's Creed Mirage, one of Ubisoft's biggest games of the year. Set to be released on October 5, Ubisoft expects the game to be a commercial success (here's our review) which it needs after facing challenges such as declining sales, game delays, and a loss of consumer trust over its handling of the allegations of misconduct.

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Stephany Nunneley-Jackson

News Editor

Stephany is VG247’s News Editor, with 22 years experience (with 15 of them at VG247). With a brain that lacks adhesive ducks, the ill-tempered, chaotic neutral fembot does her best to bring you the most interesting gaming news. She is also unofficially the site’s Lord of the Rings/Elder Scrolls Editor.

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