Season Has Seen Major Development Shifts Due to Alleged Toxic Executive
Scavengers Studio’s Season, which had an impressive debut trailer at 2020’s The Game Awards, has reportedly had a tumultuous development that is due to the latest in a reported pattern of workplace harassment and toxic behavior at the studio.
A new comprehensive report from GamesIndustry.biz lays out a host of allegations from nine current and former employees of Scavengers Studio, the team behind the previous Darwin Project and the upcoming Season, against co-founder and Darwin Project creative director Simon Darveau. Specifically in regard to Season, the report describes an alleged, previous worry among developers at Scavengers that, should Darveau become a part of the team working on Season, he would essentially “override” the current creative director, Kevin Sullivan (who IGN previously spoke to about Season), and the rest of the team’s work.
According to the report, these concerns became real, with allegations that, despite his actual role on the game remaining unclear, he has come in and led to “a considerable shift in focus and scope” on Season than what had previously been in place.
“Several current employees mentioned that Darveau had used the partnership with Sony to force his own ideas onto the game, saying he had promised a number of features to seal the deal – such as a larger world, quests, and objective markers – that either weren’t planned or had already been scrapped by the team. Now, they said, the studio is on the hook for them,” Gamesindustry.biz’s report states, with one source quoted in the story saying “I don’t even recognize the game” from what was originally planned.
One source even told the outlet “While it brought me extreme joy to see the work of my friends, it did sting a little bit to see a bunch of people praising the studio, saying how calming and chill and progressive everything looked. It might well be true for the Season project, but it has not been my experience with management.”
[widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=season-9-screenshots&captions=true”]
And those concerns are allegedly not just due to the claims of Davreau’s “inability to follow through on ideas” that was also a marked aspect of Darwin Project’s development internally. Instead, the report shines a light on a number of accusations against Devreau and current-Scavengers CEO Amélie Lamarche.
Chief among the claims of the alleged hostile workplace created by Davreau and Lamarche is the sense of a “boys’ club” atmosphere, with allegations that women at the studio have been ” frequently degraded by male employees including Darveau, or infantilized and treated as if they did not know what they were talking about even when speaking from a position of expertise about their own work.”
Additionally, the report lays out reported concerns from current and former employees about Davreau’s mistreatment and bullying of employees, save for a group of “commandos” that were Davreau’s favorites; allegations of Davreau groping multiple employees, and the implications of Lamarche essentially serving in an HR role to other employees despite having previously been in a romantic relationship with Davreau.
Scavengers responded to Gamesindustry, saying “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,” and while the studio told the outlet that “Certain elements…are false, somewhat blown out of proportion or lacking important pieces,” Scavengers did not comment further on what specifically may have been incorrect about the allegations.
Season is scheduled for a release this year on PC and PS5.