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Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla director steps down after affair allegations

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla has lost its creative director, Ashraf Ismail, just months ahead of its launch.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Ubisoft’s Ismail said he will resign from his post “to properly deal with the personal issues in my life.”

Ismail didn’t say what precipitated his decision, but tweets surfaced over the weekend, implicating him in extramarital affairs and suggesting he hid his marital status to others.

“The lives of my family and my own are shattered,” he said in his tweet. He added that he wished his former team at Ubisoft “all the best” and that they didn’t “deserve to be associated” with his alleged impropriety.

“Ashraf Ismail is stepping down from the project to take a leave of absence,” Ubisoft told Digital Trends. “The development team is committed to delivering a great game in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.”

Ismail’s resignation comes just two days after developer Techland parted ways with writer Chris Avellone after several women over the weekend accused him of sexual harassment. In a statement, Techland said that it takes “matters of sexual harassment and disrespect with utmost care, and have no tolerance for such behaviors.”

On Sunday, Twitch said it also takes “accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct extremely seriously” after several people said the company has ignored instances of abuse by the platform’s streamers. A growing number of Twitch streamers have called for a Twitch blackout to recognize the sexual harassment victims and celebrate their courage for speaking out.

Between Friday and Monday, the New York Times identified more than 70 people, mostly women, who tweeted about their experiences with sexual harassment and abuse in the gaming industry. Streamer and content creator Jessica Richey has since published a spreadsheet documenting all of the gaming industry stories of sexual abuse, harassment, and assault shared since Friday. As of this writing, there are more than 210 stories on the list.

Ubisoft hasn’t named Ismail’s replacement, and it’s unclear what his departure will mean for the game.

Valhalla is expected to launch by the end of 2020. The game is the successor to the 2018 hit Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and will center on Vikings. It’ll be available on both current- and next-generation consoles as well as the PC.

Updated on June 24, 2020: Added Ubisoft’s statement and included more details.

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