The Managing Director of Ubisoft Singapore, who are developing Skull & Bones, has been removed from his position after a “leadership audit.”
Kotaku reports that Hugues Ricour, the Managing Director of Ubisoft Singapore, was removed after a “leadership audit” in an internal email Kotaku had obtained.
“Effective immediately,” the email from Ubisoft chief studios operating officer Virginie Haas stated “Hugues Ricour is no longer Managing Director of Ubisoft Singapore. The results of the leadership audit that was conducted in the last few weeks by our external partners makes it impossible for him to continue in this position.”
The language of the email and the company’s recent history would lead many to believe that Ricour had been fired or removed from a management position due to sexual harassment.
We previously reported how after numerous sexual misconduct allegations [1, 2, 3, 4], multiple Ubisoft executives stood down during internal investigations, or were later fired [1, 2] or placed on administrative leave. Anonymous sources also spoke to other outlets, describing the working atmosphere blurred the line between work and leisure, which allegedly lead to predatory behavior.
Along with allegations of sexual harassment (beginning with accusations of then Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Creative Director Ashraf Ismail having extra-marital affairs), several high-level individuals were accused of racist or homophobic comments, as well as close friends of executives being promoted over women.
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot later stated changes to introduce safeguards, and improve diversity and inclusivity at the company; along with the company’s support of Black Lives Matter.
However, an Ubisoft spokesperson later contacted Kotaku, telling them Ricour had not been terminated, and would continue to work for Ubisoft. “We can confirm that Hugues Ricour is both stepping down from his role as MD and also leaving the Singapore studio, but will remain at Ubisoft.” Ubisoft reportedly declined to comment on why Ricour was moving.
Ubisoft Singapore is currently developing Skull & Bones. We previously reported claims from Video Games Chronicle (VGC) that “according to development sources speaking under the condition of anonymity,” the game’s development was rebooted due to not standing out among Ubisoft’s portfolio of in-development open-world games.
The game was instead moving towards a live game model (also known as “Games as a Service”). This means a game world that will change over time with updates, including being shaped actions made by players.
The game’s development staff had some changes as well, with creative director Justin Farren leaving (joining Wargaming), and replaced by former editorial VP Elisabeth Pellen (writer and director of XIII, lead level design for Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, and more).
Pellen later stated that there will be more news on Skull & Bones in 2021, though production “has been in full swing with a new vision,” as they “dreamt something bigger.”
As such; Ricour may have been moved due to his leadership not being adequate for the team, or otherwise producing lackluster results.
We will keep you informed as we learn more.