In late 2018, Mike Laidlaw, designer and creative director of the Dragon Age saga, left Bioware to join Ubisoft on a secret project. A year later, in January 2020, the developer left the French company. Now we know the explanation. According to Jason Schreier in a new Bloomberg report, Ubisoft was working on an RPG known as Avalon, a game based on King Arthur and with elements of Monster Hunter, which was canceled because Serge Hascoët did not like it.
This last name may sound familiar to you. This is the former chief creative officer for Ubisoft, the same one who kept the latest Assassin’s Creed from having a female lead, and who has been forced to resign from his post on recent allegations. According to people close to the project, Avalon was going to be a Triple-A adventure inspired by the stories of King Arthur, in a medieval fantasy world with knights, magic, and elements of legends. With this premise, and with the Dragon Age creative director in charge, the team had high expectations for the game, although Hascoët was contrary to the setting, and decided to cancel it in about a year.
Apparently, Hascoët did not like medieval fantasy as a genre, according to team sources, and that caused him to put extremely high standards in order to frustrate the project, going so far as to say that his universe had to be ” better than Tolkien “if they wanted to do it. This did not prevent the project from continuing, where his employees told Schreier that development “was progressing well”, and that he was going to have a cooperative multiplayer proposal similar to that of the Monster Hunter saga. However, Hascoët still did not like the setting.
Throughout 2019, the team proposed several different themes, from science fiction to Greek mythology, but Ubisoft’s chief creative director dismissed them all, and last fall, he decided to cancel the project even though it was progressing apace, to the surprise of its developers. With a large number of sagas that Ubisoft maintains delivery after delivery, more and more people are asking for some freshness in the company’s catalog. A field that was the responsibility of Hascoët, where analyst Doug Creutz points out, as part of this report, that this is one of the problems with having a single person in charge of all editorial decisions.
“I think it is a good idea to have a core of trust made up of a small group of creative, diverse, and experienced people. But putting all that power in one person is risky,” explains the analyst at Cowen & Co. With the resignation of Serge Hascoët a few weeks ago and the changes that Ubisoft has announced in its organizational chart, the French company has the opportunity to restructure its management in response to multiple cases of harassment and abuse in its offices. And, also, to avoid that a single manager has all the power in creative decisions.