A Ubisoft executive who resigned earlier this month following a string of sexual misconduct allegations nixed an ambitious title from a renowned designer because he didn’t like the fantasy genre, according to a new report.
After Ubisoft hired Dragon Age designer Mike Laidlaw in 2018, he went to work on a new fantasy game code-named Avalon that centered on King Arthur and his Round Table, Bloomberg is reporting, citing sources who recounted the events. Before Laidlaw got too far, Ubisoft’s former chief creative officer Serge Hascoët canceled the title because he didn’t believe fantasy genre games could work unless they were “better than Tolkien,” Bloomberg’s sources said.
Hascoët, who rose to power after shepherding both the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry series, wielded near-complete creative control at Ubisoft and could single-handedly decide which games would be green-lit and which concepts were shelved, the report says.
A Ubisoft spokesperson said the company does “not comment on canceled projects.”
After Hascoët initially nixed Laidlaw’s concept, the developer and his team worked for months last year to win the creative officer’s blessing, said Bloomberg’s sources. To appeal to Hascoët’s artistic sensibilities, Laidlaw tried shifting the game’s focus to science fiction and then Greek mythology and believed the game’s focus on cooperative multiplayer would work well, the report says.
Hascoët, however, disagreed and ultimately made the final decision to cancel the game last fall, according to Bloomberg. Because Hascoët apparently ruled as the single creative decision-maker inside Ubisoft — an outlier among studios that typically use several creative managers to ensure a wider breadth of game themes — Laidlaw and his team had nowhere to turn.
Hascoët’s decision may have been one of his last big ones. He resigned earlier this month after he faced several sexual misconduct allegations. His departure was part of a raft of Ubisoft resignations after a recent investigation revealed a longstanding culture of sexual abuse, harassment, and sexism at the studio. CEO Yves Guillemot said Ubisoft would address the allegations in a statement accompanying Hascoët’s departure.
“Ubisoft has fallen short in its obligation to guarantee a safe and inclusive workplace environment for its employees,” Guillemot said in a statement. “This is unacceptable, as toxic behaviors are in direct contrast to values on which I have never compromised — and never will. I am committed to implementing profound changes across the company to improve and strengthen our workplace culture.”
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