Ubisoft Removes Managing Director Of Its Skull And Bones Studio

Illustration for article titled Ubisoft Removes Managing Director Of Its iSkull And Bones/i Studio
Image: Ubisoft

Hugues Ricour, the man in charge of overseeing Ubisoft’s Singapore studio, which is currently developing Skull and Bones, has been removed from that position following the result of a “leadership audit,” according to a copy of an internal company email sent out earlier this week and obtained by Kotaku.

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Ricour had been in that role since early 2018 and was responsible for overseeing the studio’s many projects, which include not just Ubisoft’s upcoming pirate ship combat game, but co-production responsibilities on the Assassin’s Creed series and the upcoming Immortals: Fenyx Rising, formerly called Gods and Monsters.

“Effective immediately, Hugues Ricour is no longer Managing Director of Ubisoft Singapore,” reads the email from Ubisoft chief studios operating officer, Virginie Haas, who took over that position in August amid the company’s ongoing MeToo reckoning. “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.”

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It remains unclear if Ricour has been fired from the company or simply removed from his current management position.

The news comes after an August 14 investigation into workplace abuse at Ubisoft by Gamasutra which reported that Ricour had been accused by “multiple sources of sexual harassment,” including making suggestive comments about what women were wearing and soliciting kisses at work events. Sources Kotaku have spoken with over the last several months say that Ricour’s management style and behavior at work was problematic, citing bullying, demeaning comments, and retaliatory action against those perceived to have stood up to him.

Ricour and Ubisoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The internal email from Haas states that Ubisoft Singapore’s director of operations, Matthew Thorpe, and human resources director, Debbie Lee, will “ensure a smooth transition in the interim,” and that the studio will hold an upcoming town hall to address employee questions about Ricour’s removal.

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Revealed at E3 2017 as a naval warfare game inspired by Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Skull and Bones was originally supposed to come out the following year, but has since been delayed multiple times. In July of this year, VGC reported that the game had been rebooted.

Three sources with knowledge of the game’s development, but who wished to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak to the press, told Kotaku that the game has undergone multiple revisions since development started and is currently still a ways off from releasing. Elisabeth Pellen, the game’s second creative director, acknowledged some of these delays and changes to direction in a September open letter to fans.

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Update - 11:22 p.m. ET, 11/18/20: A spokesperson for Ubisoft told Kotaku in an email that Ricour has not been terminated and will continue on at the company, just not in Singapore.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

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Ubisoft declined to comment further on why Ricour is moving to a different office.

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at ethan.gach@kotaku.com

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DISCUSSION

Call me cynical, but I’m inclined to think that this guy was a sacrificial lamb so that Ubisoft can keep saying that they’re “addressing the issue.”