Maxime Béland, Ubisoft’s vice-president of editorial, has resigned following accusations of assault and misconduct that emerged in recent weeks. Kotaku first reported that Béland had stepped down and Ubisoft has confirmed his resignation to Engadget.
Both Béland and Tommy François, the studio’s vice president of editorial and creative services, were reportedly placed on disciplinary leave in late June. Ubisoft has since confirmed that François is on leave pending the outcome of an investigation, and that it had fired another employee at its Toronto studio for “engaging in behaviors that do not align with what is expected of Ubisoft employees.”
Save for a short stint at Epic Games, Béland had worked for Ubisoft for 20 years. He worked on the original Assassin's Creed, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist and Far Cry 4, among other games.
A dozen current and former Ubisoft Toronto employees spoke with Kotaku, which published a detailed report about alleged misconduct at the studio today. They “described an overall workplace culture that undervalues women’s contributions, normalizes sexism and harassment, and makes excuses for the worst offenders while complaints about them go unheeded.” At one point, Béland’s wife Rima Brek was reportedly the studio’s interim head of HR, and the department had a “reputation for being unhelpful at best,” according to Kotaku.
Last week, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot published a letter to employees that detailed a plan to overhaul the company’s culture. As well as investigations into reports of misconduct, Ubisoft has introduced a way to report “harassment, discrimination and other inappropriate behaviors” in confidence. In addition, Ubisoft will revamp the Editorial Group (which until recently consisted entirely of white males), reassign an employee to oversee workplace culture and hire a head of diversity and inclusion.
Here’s the full statement Ubisoft provided to Engadget regarding Béland’s resignation:
“Maxime Beland, Vice President Editorial, has resigned from his role at Ubisoft, effective immediately. Despite his resignation, we continue to investigate the allegations made against him. Additionally, effective as of [Thursday], Tommy François, Vice President Editorial & Creative Services, has been placed on disciplinary leave pending the outcome of an investigation. One other individual in our Toronto studio has been terminated for engaging in behaviors that do not align with what is expected of Ubisoft employees. Other investigations are ongoing and will be conducted rigorously.
Ubisoft will not tolerate workplace misconduct and will continue taking disciplinary actions against anyone who engages in harassment, discrimination and other behaviors that infringe on our Code of Fair Conduct.”