Ubisoft Was Working
Here’s the TL;DR on this one upfront because the one-sentence summary is so ridiculous, Ubisoft Was Working, that it deserves to be front and center, Ubisoft hired Dragon Age’s creative director to make a new fantasy game, and then canceled it because an executive didn’t like fantasy games.
In a report from Bloomberg, we learn that Ubisoft had a King Arthur-themed project in the works at Ubisoft Quebec which was the lead development studio on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Ubisoft had hired Mike Laidlaw from BioWare to head up the project; Laidlaw has cachet to his name, as he was credited as lead designer on Dragon Age and its sequel before serving as creative director on Dragon Age: Inquisition. Internally, the game was codenamed “Avalon.”
According to the report from Bloomberg, Laidlaw was hired by Ubisoft in 2018 to work on an RPG code-named Avalon. Made by a team at Assassin’s Creed Odyssey studio Ubisoft Québec, it was intended to be a big-budget adventure about King Arthur and his Round Table, focused on telling their stories in a fantasy world “full of knights and legends”. Those who worked on the project felt it had been progressing well, and Avalon would have featured a cooperative multiplayer world similar to Capcom’s Monster Hunter series.
Reportedly, the primary reason for Hascoët canning Laidlaw’s Avalon was simple- Hascoët was not a fan of fantasy settings, and he set the bar for the development team very high, saying that if they were going to make a fantasy game, it would have to be “better than Tolkien.” Ubisoft Was Working, According to Schreier’s report, several current and former Ubisoft developers have said Avalon and Laidlaw were among many ideas and high-profile developers to be stifled by Hascoët’s absolute authority over creative decisions. Many of these were fantasy projects before Avalon came about.
Reports continue to emerge detailing allegations of sexual harassment and HR failures at Ubisoft. For now, Guillemot has temporarily taken on the role of chief creative officer – and when asked if he knew about the sexual harassment at Ubisoft, claimed that those around him “betrayed the trust [he] placed in them”. As for Hascoët, one can only wonder what sort of games we could have seen from Ubisoft without his influence.