Ubisoft executive Maxime Béland resigns following assault allegations
Formerly creative director at Ubisoft Toronto
Maxime Béland, vice president of Ubisoft's Editorial department, has resigned following allegations that he assaulted a female employee while he was creative director at Ubisoft Toronto. Ubisoft's Editorial team oversee a vision and overall direction for the company's games. Béland was one of the people named during the recent weeks of public sexual harassment and abuse accusations against Ubisoft employees as well as across the industry. In response, Ubisoft last week vowed to make "fundamental changes" to improve.
"Maxime Béland, Vice President Editorial, has resigned from his role at Ubisoft, effective immediately," Ubisoft confirmed in a statement to The Verge.
"Despite his resignation, we continue to investigate the allegations made against him. Additionally, effective as of yesterday, 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."
As Kotaku reported, the alleged incident was at a 2014 party celebrating the launch of Far Cry 4, which Ubisoft Toronto helped on. According to the former employee, while she was talking with Béland at the party, he said "Do you know what she likes?" then put his hands around her neck and squeezed, which she likened to a "creepy demonstration."
Other employees reported unpleasant interactions with Béland too. Compounding all this is that Ubisoft Toronto's interim head of HR was married to him.
In Thursday's open letter to staff, part of CEO Yves Guillemot's plan to tackle the company's problem was to "revise the composition of the Editorial Department". Some staff had previously complained about the team's lack of diversity, which Ubisoft said they agreed with.
The past few weeks have seen hundreds of accusations made against streamers, developers, and media in video games and beyond, in tabletop gaming and comics and more too. While many accusations have focused on Ubisoft, don't take this to mean they're the only company with problems.