(UPDATED) Darwin Project Developer Co-Founders Accused Of Promoting Toxic, Sexist Workplace Environment

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor January 27, 2021
Share:

Scavengers Studio, makers of free-to-play battle royale Darwin Project and the upcoming PC and PlayStation 5 title Season, has a "toxic work environment that leadership created" where employees are regularly screamed at and female employees have frequently faced harassment, GamesIndustry.biz reported in a lengthy exposé about working conditions at the Montreal developer. The studio was co-founded by former Ubisoft designer Simon Darveau and Amélie Lamarche, who were in a romantic relationship at the time of its founding and have encouraged "an environment hostile to women" where "screaming matches are common," GamesIndustry alleged.

Darveau and other male employees "frequently degraded" female employees or "infantilized and treated [women] as if they did not know what they were talking about even when speaking from a position of expertise about their own work." Most troubling, Darveau allegedly became intoxicated at a January 2019 party that saw him "inappropriately touch and grab multiple female employees." One employee described Darveau at this event as being in "full predator mode."

Abby, the female protagonist of Season, was originally supposed to play a guitar, but that was changed to a ukulele when an employee insisted that a guitar was "too complicated for a woman." Other male employees frequently made inappropriate comments about women's appearances or other "sexist remarks and behaviors." Employees of both genders mentioned Darveau's propensity to scream at other employees, and even to an Xbox representative over the phone when he was unsatisfied with the space his company had been allocated in a booth at a convention.

The problems at the developer were compounded by Lamarche's influence. As the de facto head of HR, she was the contact point for people in the company expressing concerns about Darveau, which many employees felt presented a clear conflict of interest. (The two are no longer in a romantic relationship.) In early 2019, Lamarche replaced Darveau as CEO, though he still maintains a position of influence in the company.

New HR guidelines were announced around this time, though two employees GI.biz spoke to recalled Darveau "cracking jokes through the entire meeting" and "being like a teenager in the audience ... laughing and riffing on whatever the sexual harassment policies were." Darveau allegedly exhibited similar immature behavior at other times as well, including holding grudges against employees who disagreed with him or living in the office and leaving messes, including trash and other personal items.

Our summary only scratches the surface of the allegations against Darveau and Lamarche, which GI.biz said it compiled from interviews with nine current and former employees at Scavengers Studio. If true, they represent a deeply flawed company, reflective of the person who leads it, described as "excellent at delivering a compelling pitch" for a game but also lacking a "concrete plan, and there's never really a game in the end."

UPDATE, Jan. 27: In a message posted on the Scavengers Studio website today, Amelie Lamarche announced that she has temporarily stepped down from her position as CEO while an independent firm conducts an audit of its business practices. In addition, Simon Darveau has been "indefinitely suspended from all responsibilities within the company and from the Board of Directors."

Share:
Got a news tip? Contact us directly here!

About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

Discussion (1)

tipper bop 1 year ago
That is what happens when you are part of one of the worst games every made.


You May Enjoy

Whelp, It Was Fun While It Lasted But You'll Need To Give Overwatch 2 A Phone Number Again

Whelp, It Was Fun While It Lasted But You'll Need To Give Overwatch 2 A Phone Number Again

Pre-paid phones have been enabled so now the policy is fully reinstated.

By Michael Byrne - 5 days ago
Sea Of Thieves Drops A Deep Dive Video For Season 8, Prep Before Tomorrow's Release

Sea Of Thieves Drops A Deep Dive Video For Season 8, Prep Before Tomorrow's Release

The video offers a deeper look at the new PvP system.

By QuintLyn Bowers - 5 days ago
Microsoft Claims It Offered Sony A 10-Year Contract For Call of Duty On PlayStation, No Comment From Sony

Microsoft Claims It Offered Sony A 10-Year Contract For Call of Duty On PlayStation, No Comment From Sony

Seems to be the fight that just won't end...

By Michael Byrne - 5 days ago
New Extraction Shooter, Hawked, Coming To PS5, Xbox Series, PS4, Xbox One, And PC

New Extraction Shooter, Hawked, Coming To PS5, Xbox Series, PS4, Xbox One, And PC

If Indian Jones was an FPS game, this would be it.

By Aspen Pash - 3 days ago
Battlefield 2042's Season 3 Battle Pass Gets A New Trailer Showing Off Rewards And New Specialist Rasheed Zain

Battlefield 2042's Season 3 Battle Pass Gets A New Trailer Showing Off Rewards And New Specialist Rasheed Zain

Season 3 Battle Pass has a number of weapons on the line for free and, of course, some premium cosmetics.

By Michael Byrne - 5 days ago
Black Friday Is This Week And Game Companies Would Like Your Money, So Here's Some Deals

Black Friday Is This Week And Game Companies Would Like Your Money, So Here's Some Deals

NCSoft and Square Enix are both rolling out the discounts.

By QuintLyn Bowers - 4 days ago