Ubisoft has a glaring spotlight on it when hundreds of reports of abuse came pouring out about the work environment surrounding the major publisher. The most recent report doesn’t have much to do in the way of sexual misconduct as previous stories have, but it does shed some light on why Dragon Age’s Mike Laidlaw joined the Ubisoft community only to leave a year later.
According to a report by Bloomberg, Ubisoft’s former chief creative officer Serge Hascoet, a person now removed from the company for actively facilitating a hostile working environment, axed an intriguing RPG centering around King Arthur’s tale. Laidlaw was working on this game, a game that was largely left a mystery until now, and he reportedly left following the cancellation of the RPG that was code-named Avalon.
The same report claims that this game was meant to be massive, filled with an incredible narrative and gameplay mechanics that wove intricately between swordsmanship and magic. While the team attached to this project made headway on what this Arthur RPG would be like, Hoscoet reportedly trashed the idea due to a personal distaste for fantasy-driven games and therefore he placed numerous roadblocks to ensure its failure. Bloomberg reports that the former head told the team it either had to be “better than Tolkien” or it wouldn’t exist.
For those that love fantasy, Avalon wasn’t the first fantasy-style adventure to be tossed into the trashcan by the former chief creative officer, though Avalon was the most recent. It was even said that the team tried their hardest to implement features he would personally love in order to make sure this game saw the finish line, including adding sci-fi settings and heavily incorporating various mythologies, including Greek. Unfortunately, none of those changes seemed to matter, and it seemed like Ubisoft’s Gods & Monsters game, another title announced by the studio, would take precedent, and Avalon was placed in an indefinite delayed status: permanent limbo.
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Many reports have surfaced over the past month of Hascoet’s heavy hand and controlling nature going far beyond direction and leading into a failure to discern professional goals with personal whims. This was also the same executive that has constantly deleted, altered, or put in the background various female characters because “women don’t sell.”
With Ubisoft being the latest company under the Me Too microscope, Hascoet eventually stepped down alongside CEO Yannis Mallat, HR’s Cecile Cornet, and VP Maxime Beland. While it’s a breath of fresh air to see this turmoil see the light of day, it’s a shame that it went unnoticed for so long on a bigger scale. How many employees went through hell before enough was enough? How many incredible creative projects were shelved or changed beyond recognition? It’s a long road to recovery, but at least the first steps have finally been taken.