Have you heard about Quantic Dream? You know them. They make a whole bunch of story-heavy games for Sony, like Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human. They are also in the news lately for workplace harassment, specifically related to racist behavior and sexual harassment. Two of the biggest names at the company, co-founder David Cage and executive producer Guillaume de Fondaumiere, are at the head of allegations. Two of the biggest accusations accusations say that Cage made racist comments, with one being made after watching burglary footage, and that de Fondaumiere would force himself on coworkers during special events the developer hosted. This is in addition to other rumors of long hours, employers who don’t listen, and inappropriate photoshopped images passed around the office.
Basically, a lot of information is leaking out of Quantic Dream suggesting things are going wrong at the developer. And the worst part is, Quantic Dream and Sony are not handling this situation properly. Instead of taking the accusations seriously, committing to an internal review, and doing what you would expect to find the truth and address any problems, there is rug-sweeping, defensive behaviors, and all sorts of actions that make both companies look even worse.
Let’s start with Sony. When all of these Quantic Dream allegations started coming to light, Sony France made an official statement. It said, “As an independent development studio, Quantic Dream is responsible for their social and wage policies. More generally, we expect our suppliers and partners to comply with the laws and practices in force in their country. We have no other comment.” Basically, Sony rug swept everything. Not our studio? Not our problem! Never mind that these alleged practices do not comply with France’s regulations. It is not going to comment on it. Not a good look, considering it is publishing Detroit: Become Human and hoping for it to be one of the PlayStation 4’s hottest games in 2018.
The reactions from Quantic Dreams after these allegations came to light make the company and its employers look horrible too. Back on January 14, 2018, the official statement said, “We categorically deny all of these allegations.” In a Le Monde report, Cage and du Fondaumiere were said to be “very surprised” and “shocked,” describing these serious allegations that should be investigated as employee “rantings.” That is not a good look. (And it makes me wonder if they were “very surprised” and “shocked” more that word got out and they were caught than that such actions happened.) Cage tried to pull the “I can’t be a racist, because I worked with [person of this race] card, saying he worked with Jesse Williams and Ellen Page to “prove” he does not discriminate.
But the worst look is Quantic Dreams looking to carry out legal action regarding this, calling the reporting a smear campaign. Instead of saying that they will conduct an internal investigation to determine validity, the company is getting defensive and saying that it is going to hunt down anyone who repeats the allegations, rather than committing to better themselves.
Considering their past and future, it makes everything seem even more suspect. The new allegations suggest sexual harassment. Remember Beyond: Two Souls? Ellen Page has a no nudity clause in her contracts, but Quantic Dream rendered a naked version of her character for the game. This is even though she did not do any full body scans for such a thing. That is rather disrespectful. Also, Quantic Dreams receives public funding and now the Paris Council could be investigating the company’s crunch behaviors, questionable termination procedures, and toxic behaviors. If Paris Council investigates and finds there is a basis for these allegations, Quantic Dream could have to refund money they received if they are guilty.
We have Quantic Dream, a company with a reputation. A company that has had rumors around and allegations asserted about multiple troubling behaviors. We know that they behaved questionably with Ellen Page and that the Paris Council is considering an investigation of the developer. Yet Sony is rug-sweeping the behavior and peacing-out, while the company itself is flailing about and trying to say it is surprised and going to sue people for exposing these allegations instead of taking them seriously and investigating them. This is not how you handle abuse and sexual harassment claims.