Become Human’ developer Quantic Dream wins libel suit against French newspaper Le Monde

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Developer Quantic Dream, the studio behind Detroit: Become Human and Heavy Rain, has successfully sued Le Monde for libel, after the French newspaper published stories alleging a harmful work culture.

Quantic Dream had sued both Le Monde and Mediapart, an online investigative journal, for stories published in 2018 that it said damaged the studio’s reputation. As spotted by Eurogamer, via French site Solidaires Informatique, Le Monde’s defence was weakened by being unable to verify its reporting without revealing the identity of its sources.

However, the complaints about Mediapart were not upheld, with its reporting deemed to be in “good faith”.

The 2018 reports were the result of a joint investigation between Le Monde, Mediapart, and Canard PC. They alleged a toxic workplace, including racist and sexist behaviour, offensive digital alterations of images of employees, an arduous crunch culture, and collusion to terminate staff contracts, which would have violated French labour laws.

At the time, studio president David Cage said the reports were “ridiculous, absurd and grotesque”, while Quantic Dream COO Guillaume de Fondaumière added “I will be extremely clear: it’s absolutely false”.

However, some of the claims of offensive images were upheld, with Quantic Dream in November 2019 having to pay an ex-employee €5000 compensation, plus €2000 in costs, in respect of failing its “security obligation” to prevent distribution of the images. The company said it “will not appeal” the judgement.

Quantic Dream’s libel win against Le Monde is the latest legal victory for the studio following the original reports. In April 2021, the Paris Court of Appeals overturned a 2018 unfair dismissal ruling against the company. Quantic Dream issued a statement at the time, highlighting “the absence of a ‘toxic atmosphere’ or any kind of discrimination in the studio”.

NME has contacted Quantic Dream and Le Monde for comment on the latest ruling.

In other news, Stuart Dinsey – the former chair of UK video games trade association UKIE – has called for self-regulation of loot boxes by developers and publishers that use them in their titles.

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