Today marks another vague shake-up at Ubisoft in the wake of numerous misconduct allegations and corresponding investigations at the company: Hugues Ricour, managing director at Ubisoft Singapore, is leaving his role and the studio but will remain at Ubisoft. Ricour's exit, which reportedly comes following an Ubisoft "leadership audit," also suggests more trouble for the Singapore team's long-delayed Skull and Bones project.
Kotaku broke the Breaking News Updates | Latest News Headlines | Photos & News Videos of Ricour's removal this morning, having obtained an internal Ubisoft email on the matter sent within the past few days. In the email, Ubisoft's chief studios operating officer Virginie Haas says that the "results of the leadership audit that was conducted in the last few weeks by our external partners makes it impossible for [Ricour] to continue in this position." Gamasutra reported in August that Haas stands accused by "multiple sources of sexual harassment," to which Kotaku adds allegations of "bullying, demeaning comments, and retaliatory action[.]"
Said audit, along with Haas' elevation to the operating officer role, came after this summer's massive wave of harassment, abuse, and sexual misconduct allegations made against numerous key figures at Ubisoft. While some Ubisoft removals and exits were relatively swift, like those of Editorial Department executives Tommy François and Maxime Béland, Ricour's departure from the managing director post comes after an extended company-wide investigations process that Ubisoft has kept fairly quiet about.
In July, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot promised "fundamental changes" at the company after it was rocked by the barrage of harassment and misconduct accounts. In the months since, while investigations like those into Ricour's conduct have continued, Ubisoft has struggled to adequately balance its marketing for upcoming games with updates and general transparency on Guillemot's promised changes.
Ubisoft is also experiencing hard times just on the development and delivery front. Late last month, it announced delays for both Far Cry 6—a game originally dated for a Feb. 18, 2021 launch—and Rainbow Six Quarantine into a window between April and Sept. 2021. The primary factor cited for both delays are complications stemming from the pandemic.
In a follow-up statement to Kotaku, Ubisoft declined to offer more information on why action has been taken against Ricour and did not disclose details on what his new role at the company will entail. USgamer has also reached out to Ubisoft for comment, and this piece will be updated in the event we receive new information.
In September, Skull and Bones creative director Elizabeth Pellen confirmed that development on the title has pivoted toward "a new vision," perhaps that of a teamwork-oriented live service game as reported earlier in the year. Pellen also notes that several other Ubisoft studios are now working on the project alongside the Singapore team. More word on the new direction for Skull and Bones is promised to come soon, but it seems very unlikely that we'll be seeing it around the same time as the new Far Cry and Rainbow Six titles.