Detroit Dev Quantic Dreams Wins Lawsuit Without Actually Disproving Misconduct Allegations

Detroit Dev Quantic Dreams Wins Lawsuit Without Actually Disproving Misconduct Allegations
Screenshot: Quantic Dream

Quantic Dream, creators of “so bad, they’re bad” games like Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human, recently brought libel action against two French newspapers which had jointly published allegations of misconduct against individuals at the company back in 2018. Now the court has ruled both for and against the developer, seemingly on the same basis.

On September 9th, despite some extremely strange public behaviour, Quantic Dream won its libel suit against French newspaper, Le Monde. However, it also lost its other libel suit against another French publication, Mediapart. This is particularly odd given that the pieces in question were a collaboration between Le Monde, Mediapart, and Canard PC. All three stories regarding alleged abuses at Quantic Dream were published at the same time, based on collaborative reporting. Quantic Dream sued Le Monde and Mediapart, but not Canard PC.

In 2018 Le Monde, Mediapart, and Canard PC each published pieces alleging various abuses at Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream. These included allegations of widespread sexual harassment, severe crunch, racist remarks by executives (including studio founder David Cage himself), and the existence of a bunch of really weird and uncomfortable photoshops of employees. Quantic Dream responded to these allegations by stamping its feet and filing libel suits, claiming the allegations were totally baseless attacks.

Mediapart won the suit against the developer by proving its good faith reporting practices. This means that the claims against Quantic Dreams reported by Mediapart, and its reporting practices, have now been verified in a court of law, which is a very bad look for a company trying to clear itself of allegations of wrongdoing.

The court decided that Le Monde, on the other hand, had failed to meet the burden of proof, which French union publication Solidaires Informatiques argues was caused by Le Monde’s unwillingness to disclose anonymous sources to the court.

Establishing truth in French libel cases can be notoriously difficult. You have to prove not only that what you’re saying is true, but that you had all of the relevant evidence at time of publication. All of this burden falls upon the defendant. In refusing to disclose its sources to the court, Le Monde may have been unable to prove that the information was verifiably sourced, even if it was true.

This is all to say that practicing basic journalistic ethics could have resulted in the publication being found guilty of libel. This is not that uncommon. Relying on anonymous sourcing, despite its ability to break incredibly important stories such as the misconduct at Quantic Dream, has its risks, and vulnerability to libel suits can be one of them.

It is, however, important to put this loss into context. The allegations against Quantic Dream have not been proven untrue. Le Monde seemingly lost as a matter of procedure. In fact, Mediapart’s successful defence only lends credence to the allegations against Quantic Dream.

Additionally, the French courts are built on the law as written, not on precedence, as in the U.S. and UK. In the United States, higher-court rulings set the standard for future proceedings, which is not the case in France. Instead, judges act almost solely on the letter of the law. This doesn’t mean precedent has zero influence on later rulings, but that its effect is far more limited. This loss, thankfully, does not lay the legal groundwork for future harassment of journalists, although it may embolden other corporations to file libel suits.

Comments

  • > Quantic Dream, creators of “so bad, they’re bad” games like Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human

    So Kotaku writers are just casually shitting on games they don’t like now?

    • More like shitting on developers they don’t like: this is pure op ed politics, not journalism.

      I haven’t played either game, but their respective 7.8 & 7.9 on metacritic call Renata’s “so bad their bad” into question.

      I’m progressive enough i annoy everyone I know and even I’m baffled by this article. We don’t come to Kotaku for political agendas and propaganda, this isn’t fox news.

      If video games can’t be a truth that transcends politics what purpose does this site serve?

      • Speak for yourself, “We don’t come to Kotaku for political agendas” my arse.

        Quite a lot of people do indeed come to Kotaku because a) it does crusading journalism (yes, it happens in the mainstream media too), b) it’s an entertaining blog with actual opinions, including some throw aways to generate a reaction and to get a quick laugh, not an “objective” news site, and c) it takes social justice issues seriously. These are kinda things that Kotaku have been doing for literally years now… I mean, what specifically have you been reading all this time mate?

        Also, your last sentence is just random gibberish.. I mean seriously, it’s objectively nonsensical.

      • Repeat after me… Kotaku is NOT a news source, while it does report ‘current affairs’, it does not use the most basics of journalism, it is largely a BLOG site. Why on earth are you even here, and why on earth do you bother wasting your breath getting upset over that simple realty… Kotaku is primarily NOT a news site.

    • Yeah, that “So bad, they’re bad” seemed so painfully opinionated I cringed as I read it. This should have been written as a more informative piece. Instead, it hits with an unsubstantiated claim right off the bat – one that most people can disprove with a quick wiki search.

      Speaking as a former journalist, while you can strongly believe someone is guilty – even if they’ve done something terrible – you shouldn’t let it leak so overtly into your copy. This just makes you look bad, not the person you’re writing about, which is exactly what you *don’t* want. That’s also what being a professional is about.

      That said, crusades against developer misconduct are great because they uncover bad practices that might go unnoticed otherwise – but unfortunately, delivery matters. If you are trying to paint a negative picture of Quantic Dream, limit it to the facts you choose to dig up and include.

      • Yeah, if the hook is a throw away comment the audience will just throw away the article.

        The us version of Kotaku has a ton of legal debate around the rest of the article and half of that is “this is how it works in America” ignoring this is in France and the other half is “this is how I think it should work on France” with a 1% margin for error of French lawyers saying “you’re all wrong”.

        If journalism intention is to leave the audience more informed, this article has failed.

        As an op ed piece, with no requirement or expectation for information or objectivity it’s just fine.

        Maybe as an audience we’re applying the wrong analytical filter to the article: Kotaku could help us there with some kind of labelling perhaps?

      • I have found that, with a few notable exceptions, Kotaku’s articles fall into the ‘enthusiast press’ category rather than ‘journalism’. Most of it is opinion with some superficial facts to back up that opinion. Very little investigation at all and no real balance in presenting ‘evidence’. That being said, I can appreciate that apparently Renata took the time to present the basics of the French legal system and libel claims. It’s just unfortunate that she couldn’t resist grinding her axe at the same time.

        • It’s funny how people’s complaints about “grinding the axe” magically disappear if the opinions expressed in an article are ones they actually happen to personally agree with.

          I mean, seriously, have we actually stooped so low as to be presenting metacritic scores as some objective standard of game quality now?!? Personally, I give that argument a 7.5/10.

          Sheesh guys, stop pretending that you’re all on some holy crusade to scrub the internet of any and all subjectivity and opinion, you’re just embarassing yourselves.

          • If you’ve got a recommendation for a review source comparable in size to metacritic that has consistently low reviews for either game it could be a valuable tool for informing us when making video game purchases

          • “I used to hate Quantic Dream games. But then I found out they abuse their employees, and I’ve changed my mind.”

  • Seems like the author of this article is championing a guilty until proven innocent system, in that case id like to say they assaulted me when we were alone that time, prove me wrong.

      • “It is, however, important to put this loss into context. The allegations against Quantic Dream have not been proven untrue. Le Monde seemingly lost as a matter of procedure. In fact, Mediapart’s successful defence only lends credence to the allegations against Quantic Dream.”

        Like i said normally the burden of proof is on the accuser not the accused to prove their innocence.

        According to the article Mediaparts successfull defence was just that they reported in good faith, nothing to do with the allegations being actually true or not.

        Yeah but i didnt read the article what would i know.

        Thanks though for policing everyones comments AngoraFish, you’re fighting the good fight , keep on trucking cowboy

  • I tried to read this article but I couldn’t get past the first sentence where there were falsehoods casually slipped into my brain. Detroit become human rules.

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