Ubisoft has announced Assassin’s Creed Infinity, the next evolution of the long-running Assassin’s Creed franchise. While still early in development (and AC Infinity is a project codename), Ubisoft has revealed that this will change how the games are made with a new collaborative cross-studio development structure that unites Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Quebec, who previously alternated as the developer of each game.
While Ubisoft has not stated what this means for the game, Bloomberg is reporting that the Assassin’s Creed Infinity will transition the game from a standalone release to a more expansive and long-standing live service platform that will feature multiple settings and expand over the months and years following its debut. While each setting might have a different look and feel, they will be connected.
The announcement has come with the reveal of a number of studio heads, managers and designers that will be leading the project. These include Ubisoft Quebec founder Marc-Alexis Côté as Executive Producer, Ubisoft Montreal’s Étienne Allonier as the continuing brand director, Ubisoft Montreal’s Julien Laferrière as Senior Producer, while Jonathan Dumont of Ubisoft Quebec and Clint Hocking from Ubisoft Montreal are Creative Directors. Hocking is renowned for his work on Far Cry 2 and most recently leading Watch Dogs Legion’s development.
The problem is that some of these people were implicated in the #MeToo allegations that rocked Ubisoft last year and led to a string of high-profile departures from near the top of the company. In particular, Côté was named as an enabler to the toxic culture, while Dumont was accused of homophobic and misogynistic commentary, and physical intimidation.
In June, French union Solidaires Informatique said that at least three Ubisoft Montreal managers had been accused of “harassment or toxic behavior” and that reports of racism and sexism were being made to human resources “without anything being done.” The involvement of those accused has apparently led to a lot of dissatisfaction on Ubisoft’s internal messaging boards.
Speaking to Bloomberg, a Ubisoft spokesperson said that “Any employee that had allegations and remain at Ubisoft has had their case rigorously reviewed by a third party and were either exonerated or underwent appropriate disciplinary actions. Employees who have been under investigation would not remain at Ubisoft if results of investigations warranted termination.”
If we’re to trust Ubisoft’s process and the third party investigation, this would be fine, but it’s troubling that there are reports of racism and sexism seemingly being brushed under the carpet by HR once more. If that’s true, it seems that not much has changed from the accusations that swept through the company this time last year and it brings into doubt whether the third party investigation was able to go far enough.