Ubisoft Forward game event won’t address sexual harassment issues company’s facing

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James Martin/CNET

Ubisoft Forward, the company’s game announcements Sunday, is serving as the digital version of its annual press event at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, each summer in Los Angeles. The event, which is being held entirely online due to the coronavirus pandemic, is when it will announce its biggest new games, such as the action games Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and FarCry 6.

But the company said it won’t be addressing sexual misconduct allegations swirling around the company. “Ubisoft Forward comes during a time of big internal change,” the company tweeted a few hours before its event began. “Because all the content has been pre-recorded, we wanted to recognize that the issues we’re currently dealing with won’t be addresses directly in the show.”

The company said it still had “significant work to do” and will provide more public updates soon.

Ubisoft’s choice not to discuss one of the biggest public misconduct scandals in its history comes as the game industry at large is facing a reckoning. Hundreds of people who work in game companies, media companies, and participate in competitive gaming say they’ve been abused by people throughout the industry in recent years. Worse, they say many companies mishandled their allegations when they came to light.

The outcry hasn’t occurred in a vacuum. This flood of allegations echo the #MeToo¬†movement that hit Hollywood in late 2017, and has encouraged many victims since to come forward in attempts to hold powerful abusers to account. In gaming, this is far from an isolated incident. For the past 8 years, gamers have been wrestling over fan and industry treatment of prominent women and critics, events that became known as GamerGate. In the words of one developer CNET spoke to in June, “the games industry is on its third ‘MeToo’ movement.”

At Ubisoft, the allegations have so far led to the departure of senior executives. They were Serge Hascoet, the company’s chief creative officer, Yannis Mallat, the head of it studios in Canada. Cecile Cornet, the company’s global head of HR, also stepped down. Other people accused of sexual misconduct have reportedly been fired or put on administrative leave while the company investigates, CNET sister site GameSpot reported.

“Ubisoft has fallen short in its obligation to guarantee a safe and inclusive workplace environment for its employees. This is unacceptable, as toxic behaviors are in direct contrast to values on which I have never compromised – and never will,” Yves Guillemot, CEO and Co-Founder of Ubisoft said in a statement. “I am committed to implementing profound changes across the Company to improve and strengthen our workplace culture.”

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