Content warning: Misogynistic remarks and a homophobic slur are quoted in this article.
French union Solidaires Informatique has reported the happenings of Quantic Dream’s David Cage and Guillaume de Fondaumière’s recent appearances in Paris court. The executives of the company — known for developing games such as Detroit: Become Human, Heavy Rain, and Beyond: Two Souls — attended court over the ongoing trial between Quantic Dream and the newspapers Le Monde and Mediapart.
In these appearances, which occurred on May 27 and May 28, 2021, co-CEO de Fondaumière reportedly asked: “I’m not under oath, so can I lie?”
Cage was allegedly stamping around in tears, exclaiming, “you are interfering in my business” and “this case touches my honor” before leaving the court, fleeing the pleas of defense lawyers. This came across as ironic to those present, given that he has allegedly publicly stated sentences like, “in my games, all women are whores” and “at Quantic Dream, we do not make games for fags.”
The two are struggling to defend their decency and dignity against accusations of cultivating a toxic work environment — allegations first published in January 2018. At the time, French outlets Le Monde, Mediapart, and Canard PC reported serious allegations of an unhealthy workplace culture embedded at Quantic Dream. Cage and de Fondaumière were accused by former employees of inappropriate behavior, exploiting staff, and promoting a culture in which misogynistic and racist jokes thrived. From this emerged that images of employees’ faces on Nazi soldiers and nude porn stars had been shared in the office.
Quantic Dream denied the allegations, claiming they were attempts at defamation. In February 2018, the company put out a statement on Twitter saying it had been “the subject of a veritable smear campaign by a few media outlets, based on slanderous remarks whose reliability and origin of the sources raise questions.” The statement ended on the promise that legal action would be taken to defend the studio. Quantic Dream pursued legal action against publications Le Monde and Mediapart in April 2018.
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Later in July 2018, it lost a court case against a former employee who had left the company due to a toxic workplace culture. In November 2019, Quantic Dream was found guilty of not following through on security obligations, as a member of management allowed photo montages using the likeness of employees to be made and shared without their consent. It had been ordered to pay $5,540, plus $2000 in costs, to a former employee who realized a photoshopped image of them doing a Nazi salute was circulated in the office.
In April 2021, the Paris Court of Appeals overturned the July 2018 ruling, deciding that none of the photoshopped images involving that specific plaintiff were degrading, homophobic, or racist. The court ruled there was no link between the publication of degrading images involving staff members and the reason why the plaintiff left Quantic Dream. But the company has had ongoing legal battles related to the allegations.
Solidaires Informatique goes on to detail more specifics of the allegations, such as transphobia, the practice of social fraud set up as a system, and a generally toxic corporate environment. Apparently, in attempting to deny social fraud, Quantic Dream reportedly proudly displayed documents regarding an employee’s dismissal that were supposed to show the company in a good light. Instead, the documents ended up revealing “irregularities involving the dismissal.” At another point in the trial, dozens of letters of dismissal were shown, “all identical, entirely copy/paste, of which only the name of the employee changed, with always the same mention ‘differences of opinion with the management,’ including in the case of the self-dismissal” of de Fondaumière. Upon being asked about this, de Fondaumière reportedly asked if he could lie. He then made “questionable allegations” that the company had been seriously damaged by all the reports. No proof of such damage was provided.