Skull & Bones, that open-world pirate title you’ve been hearing about for years, should probably just be canceled. Hugues Ricour, the studio head at Ubisoft Singapore, who was in charge of the game itself, has been removed from the position. Ubisoft has made the change after staff openly complained and the company removed him as part of a “leadership audit,” an internal company email said.
His behavior was reported back in August and included “multiple sources of sexual harassment,” including making suggestive comments about women and trying to solicit kissing from co-workers. Justin Farren, who was formerly creative director on Skull & Bones at Ubisoft Singapore, was also called out in the report from Gamasutra.
“Effective immediately, Hugues Ricour is no longer Managing Director of Ubisoft Singapore,” reads the email from Ubisoft chief studios operating officer, Virginie Haas. Ricour has been in the position since 2018 and had the lead on various projects at the studio. The teams there have also worked on on the Assassin’s Creed series and the upcoming Immortals: Fenyx Rising.
The weird thing is that Ricour will remain with the company. Ubisoft’s director of publications Michael Beadle has since confirmed this in a public statement, explaining that “Hugues Ricour is both stepping down from his role as MD and also leaving the Singapore studio, but will remain at Ubisoft.”
Ubisoft itself is no stranger to this issue at its core. The French company has been roundly criticized for a culture of sexism and abuse at the highest levels. And with a leadership team that protected abusers things were bound to get worse. Various high-level staff have left the studio, but the stains of their actions remain. Ubisoft is headed for some rough waters it seems.
As for Skull & Bones, the game has been revamped and left to rot multiple times over the years. Endless delays of the pirate sim have left many questioning if it will ever come out. The game has been delayed countless times since it was first revealed at E3 2017 as the spiritual successor to games like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The title is currently slated for release on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, sometime after March 2021.
Amid ongoing tensions and doubts over the future of the studio and their games, the parent company wants to do their best to “ensure a smooth transition in the interim,” and that the HR and leadership teams are ready to listen to studio staff and deal with any concerns.