Quantic Dream, the French studio that made Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy and is currently working on PlayStation exclusive Detroit: Become Human, has been accused of having an abusive work environment, according to reports in the French media. A joint investigation by Canard PC, Mediapart and Le Monde spoke to former employees who made accusations about the studio and its head honchos, David Cage and Guillaume de Fondaumière, both of whom deny the allegations.
The accusations range from general toxicity to racism to senior staff members making inappropriate remarks about female colleagues.
One of the major complaints concerns the discovery of a cache of photoshopped images in which pornographic photos have been spliced with the faces of employees (you can see a semi-SFW sample of these images on French website Canard PC). Many of the images are accompanied by homophobic, racist or sexist text.
There are over 600 such images, some of which date back as far as 2013. A formal complaint was made about these in early 2017, when an IT manager, who was a subject of one of the images, saw one of them in an email and discovered the rest on a freely-available work server. However, bosses Cage and de Fondaumière say they hadn’t seen the "worst" of these images until that point. Although they admit they had seen some which they said “were funny or more or less amusing”.
This is not the only complaint made by former employees. Cage is said to have overworked his staff, and made racist jokes as well as inappropriate remarks about some of the female actors starring in the studio’s games, according to Eurogamer, who have translated the French reports. According to Eurogamer's article, here’s how one employee described working conditions under Cage.
Cage is also accused of a lack of consideration for female colleagues, and of making insistent dirty jokes, smutty remarks in the presence of his wife, and inappropriate remarks about actresses in his games.
"David Cage has a very particular viewpoint on how he runs his studio, which in his own words he sees as a private, or a semi-private, space," said one former employee. "He feels he has the right to say whatever he wants, it's his place."
Others have apparently witnessed homophobic or racist jokes. One incident involved a burglary caught on CCTV. After watching, Cage allegedly asked an employee of Tunisian origin, "Is that a cousin of yours?"
Cage denied the allegations, calling them "ridiculous, absurd and grotesque" and saying they were made by "ranting" former employees.
"You want to talk about homophobia?" he told Le Monde. "I work with Ellen Page, who fights for LGBT rights. You want to talk about racism? I work with Jesse Williams, who fights for civil rights in the USA... Judge me by my work."
Yesterday, Quantic Dream, which employs over 180 people, responded to the accusations with a tweetment.
“We categorically deny all of these allegations,” it says. “Inappropriate conduct or practices have no place at Quantic Dream. We have taken and always will take such grievences seriously.”
“We value every single person who works at Quantic Dream.”
Fifty employees left the studio in the years 2015-16, says Le Monde.
"Some employees, with medical certificate as proof, talk about burn out and depression..." says the paper. "One year and an half later, they don’t want to hear again about Quantic Dream."
The public prosecutor's office of Paris has opened a preliminary investigation into the company for harassment and discrimination, says Le Monde. The article's author also describes meeting Cage in the studio as part of his investigation.
"In the meeting room, where Le Monde met him, David Cage swore twice that Quantic Dream 'wasn't a rugby changing room.' Just behind him, on a board, was drawn a phallus whose testicles were dropping a fart."