In late 2018, Ubisoft Quebec welcomed ex-Dragon Age designer Mike Laidlaw to the team. It seemed nothing short of a big get for Ubisoft, particularly given Laidlaw’s impressive pedigree. After leaving BioWare in 2017, Laidlaw spent some time away from the AAA gaming industry. The former BioWare creative returned upon finding “the right project.” It was publicly unknown what that meant at the time, but a new report claims Laidlaw and Ubisoft Quebec had their hearts set on crafting a King Arthur-centric adventure. Unfortunately, it didn’t get too far off the ground before receiving the axe from the publisher’s now-former Chief Content Officer, Serge Hascoët.
Current and former Ubisoft staff familiar with the cancelled project, codenamed Avalon, told Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier that Mike Laidlaw served as director of what would’ve been a role-playing game. King Arthur and the Round Table were to sit center-stage in a “big-budget” fantasy world, replete with the stuff of legend. Within a year, Hascoët reportedly canned Avalon–a move that consequently resulted in Laidlaw’s departure from the company.
Hascoët recently resigned from his post following accusations of sexual misconduct. The former CCO had what many describe as an “unusual amount of control” over Ubisoft’s creative content. As such, his dislike of fantasy allegedly made things difficult for Laidlaw and the Avalon crew. According to Bloomberg’s sources who are familiar with the situation, Hascoët told the team their fantasy project needed to be “better than Tolkien” to receive the go-ahead.
Writer Jordan Mychal Lemos backed the claims made in the Bloomberg report, saying he’d “worked on the project twice for two short periods of time.” He said the writing was great and there was a good passionate team behind the game but it was quickly “crushed by Serge [Hascoët].”
Oh hey, I worked on the project twice for short periods of time. I loved the narrative of the game and we had a super strong writing team early on. The entire team was great and driven by passion which was then crushed by Serge. https://t.co/EdZA8S8elv
— Jordan Mychal Lemos (@crypticjordan) July 28, 2020
This isn’t the first claim regarding creative interference leveled at Serge Hascoët. Last week, Bloomberg reported the ex-Ubisoft executive was directly responsible for the diminished roles of female leads in Assassin’s Creed. Allegedly, this particular issue dates back to AC Syndicate, with Hascoët and Ubisoft’s marketing department supposedly telling developers that female-led project didn’t sell well.