Reports surfaced in a number of French outlets over the weekend – Le Monde, Mediapart and Canard PC – that paint Quantic Dream as a toxic and harassment-filled work environment, in addition to long working hours as the studio goes through crunch to try and finish Detroit: Become Human.
In response, CEO Guillaume de Fondaumière has denied all of the allegations, some of which pertain to him personally, with a statement shared on Twitter:
Articles published today level various allegations against Quantic Dream, its management and employees. We categorically deny all of these allegations. Quantic Dream filed a complaint several months ago and further complaints will follow.
We invite interested parties to read the responses of our Employee Representatives and Health & Security Committee to questions submitted by the journalists prior to publication. Inappropriate conduct or practices have no place at Quantic Dream. We have taken and always will take such grievances very seriously.
We value every single person who works at Quantic Dream. It is of utmost important to us that we maintain a safe environment that allows us all to channel our shared passion for making video games.
The Le Monde report (via Eurogamer) states that five former employees lodged a complaint against the company after degrading images of company employees were allowed to circulate around the studio, often homophobic and sexist in nature and having been created by a long term veteran at the studio that is (ironically) an employee representative. While Cage and Fondaumière admit that these kinds of images were aware of this, some images even being displayed in open spaces, they state that they were unaware of any that were actively offensive.
Here’s an example of someone in a Santa hat photoshopped onto a Nazi uniform:
image via Canard PC
Cage himself is painted as an egotistical control freak who has to be in complete control. One former employee said, “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. He feels he has the right to say whatever he wants, it’s his place.”
He is accused of making dirty jokes in relation to his female colleagues, as well as one particular incident in which, when watching an incident of a burglary on CCTV, he quips to an employee of Tunisian descent “Is that a cousin of yours?”
In a completely tone deaf response to Le Monde, he stated, “You want to talk about homophobia? 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.”
Fondaumière is also accused of generally sleazy behaviour, such as hitting on employees at parties, which he denies, and dodging taxes by firing himself by mutual agreement before claiming a €100,000 bonus and re-hiring himself the next day. This in addition to work contracts that allegedly contain clauses to force employees to pay for overtime hours if they decide to leave instead of work.
While these allegations have been vehemently denied, they’re still troubling to hear of, even if Cage and Fondaumière come out of it smelling like roses. While long hours and crunch time during the final months of development are generally expected at game studios, that there is evidence of abuse to go alongside this is not on, and we hope that Quantic Dream can address these in a proper manner. An investigation into harassment and discrimination has been opened by the Paric public prosecutor’s office.