Ubisoft CEO and co-founder Yves Guillemot has been asked to explain how much he knew of the issues within his company, prior to the recent tidal wave of sexual misconduct allegations becoming public.
In an extraordinary exchange during last night’s company results call, Guillemot was asked by financial analyst Ken Rumph exactly how much he had – or had not – been aware of.
“I could present the question on what’s happened recently as three options,” Rumph began. “Either as CEO you didn’t know this was happening which was not great.
“Or you perhaps didn’t know enough and should have asked more, maybe that’s the answer.
“Or you knew, which of course would not be good. Those are my possibilities – you may answer the question differently. But I’d like to ask what would be the answer to your question of responsibility as CEO?”
In essence, the question asks in which way Guillemot had failed his own company – had he been blind to what was going on at senior levels around him? had he suspected but not asked enough questions? or had he been complicit?
“Each time we have been made aware of this conduct we have made, actually, tough decisions and we made sure those decisions had a clear and positive impact. So that’s very important.
“It has now become clear that certain individuals betrayed the trust I placed in them and did not live up to Ubisoft’s shared values.
“I have never compromised on my core values and ethics and never will. I will continue to run and transform Ubisoft to face today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”
His response is carefully worded, but his claim his trust was betrayed sounds closest to him saying he simply did not know – despite senior figures being part of the recent allegations.
Ubisoft placed several high profile staff on administrative leave at the end of June as it began investigating reports into alleged sexual misconduct at its various studios and within its upper management. This led Guillemot to announce a set of reforms for its top editorial department and HR processes at the start of July, alongside other new company initiatives.
But the allegations continued. A week later, Guillemot’s right-hand man Serge Hascoët was named in further sexual harassment allegations published in French newspaper Libération. Hascoët resigned his position the following day and Ubisoft’s chief of Canadian studios Yannis Mallat was announced as leaving at the same time, as it had become “impossible for him to continue”.
This week, fresh accusations of sexism and misogyny at the company surfaced in a report which also highlighted the company’s reluctance to let a woman star in its big budget Assassin’s Creed series. The report was backed by several former Assassin’s Creed voice actors, writers and developers on Twitter – each claiming their roles, characters and work were reduced to instead more prominently feature male leads. Eurogamer has contacted Ubisoft for comment.