He Said/Ubi Said – Patrice Desilets and Ubisoft’s Divorce v2.0
Much like Ezio having to relive a memory in the Animus, it feels like history is repeating itself once again. Patrice Desilets, the game designer best known for creating the Assassin’s Creed series, has left Ubisoft after a brief reunion brought about by the publisher’s acquisition of THQ in January. Desilets quit Ubisoft back in 2010 for THQ, and ended up back there, no doubt leading to him feeling this way.
This news is all very sudden, and each party has a particular take on how this all went down. Based on articles from real games journalists, the apparent animosity between Desilets and Ubisoft had to do with them shelving two projects he was working on, which led to him leaving the company. He claims he was fired and escorted out of the building, and said he intends to fight this action. Ubisoft released a statement saying that after a series of ‘good faith’ discussions, they were not able to reach an agreement and have parted ways.
So, what does this all mean? Well, it depends on how you look at it really. On one hand, you have a game developer who is passionate and driven and is trying to create something in the face of the corporate bottom line, whose vision is being impeded and screwed over by a corporation’s bottom line. No doubt it would be frustrating to be happily working for a new company and then suddenly find out you’re going back to the place you left a couple of years ago. Not only that, but then having to deal with the possibility of your current projects being delayed and/or cancelled? Totally understandable to be pissed.
Then again, Ubisoft’s quote that “the good faith discussions between Patrice and Ubisoft aimed at aligning Patrice’s and the studio’s visions have been inconclusive” is basically a carefully worded way of saying “He was a pain in the ass and fought us every step of the way, so we turfed him.” Does that make Ubisoft the bad guy? Not necessarily; there is nothing more damaging to a workplace than a toxic employee and that goes double when that employee is in a high-profile position. It’s cutthroat stuff to be sure, but that’s the way it goes when you’re a company that employs hundreds of employees and has millions of dollars at stake on a regular basis.
Do I know for a fact that Desilets was a difficult employee or that Ubisoft has wrongfully terminated him? Of course not; none of us do really. All I’m saying is that working situations of this type don’t abruptly end just because of one party. Based on what’s been said so far, there is definitely evidence of a damaged relationship between Desilets and Ubisoft that has come to a head. No doubt all this dirty laundry will be aired over the coming weeks and months, so all we can do is make some popcorn and watch it all play out.