Scavengers Studio is the developer of 2020’s Darwin Project and the upcoming PS5 game, Season. They have been accused of alleged sexual and verbal harassment as well as a pervading toxic culture at the company.
According to a report by GamesIndustry.biz, Scavengers Studio co-founder and former CEO Simon Darveau has been called out for abusing his female employees and perpetuating a sexist work environment that favours a select few for the past several years. The allegations include groping staff members while drunk at a party and instances of inappropriate comments and aggressive behaviour towards his employees.
It is also alleged that Darveau’s toxic behaviour was enabled by fellow co-founder Amélie Lamarche, both of whom have a romantic history. Due to the studio being a small indie company, it doesn’t have an official HR department, which means that Lamarche has to fulfil the responsibilities of HR. This is regarded by the studio’s employees as a conflict of interest, and it’s no question why.
However, most worrying of all is the report that Darveau has forcibly changed the scope and focus of upcoming PS5 game Season. He had apparently promised a number of features to Sony, such as a larger world, quests, and objective markers. These weren’t planned, so the employees have had to add these to the game despite not being in line with the main theme.
Scavengers Studio has since issued the following statement to GamesIndustry.biz in response, outlining a series of measures to prevent harassment and improve its HR practices:
“Scavengers Studio appreciates that there have been situations during its rapid growth and takes the position that any type of harassment is unwelcomed and unacceptable and takes any complaints in this respect very seriously.
You should note that Scavengers Studio has taken positive steps to look into its culture to see what aspects need to be adjusted. In early 2019, Simon Darveau was replaced as CEO by Lamarche who took full control of the company.
As a new female CEO, Lamarche started to build a mid-management team composed of competent team members to continue to lead the company in its mission of creating new gaming experiences with very strong and innovative empathetic twists.
The new management team has since then recreated a sense of calm and happiness in the workplace where talents are gathered around interesting and dynamic projects and where differences are embraced.”
We even put Season in our list of most anticipated games for 2021 earlier this year.