Ubisoft Singapore isn’t safe from internal turmoil, even though they have been working on Skull & Bones for roughly eight years!
Last November, Hugues Ricour, Ubisoft Singapore’s managing director, was removed from his post after Gamasutra published an article, and had been accused of sexual harassment by multiple sources, (We discussed this back then.) Anyone who complained about the situation faced workplace repercussions and that was outright ignored by Ubisoft’s human resources (HR) department.
Kotaku’s article went a step deeper, revealing the situation not only under Ricour but also after he left. Multiple examples were mentioning serious issues including failures to address sexual harassment complaints, pay disparities between local and expatriate employees, and even a „French ceiling,” which makes it difficult for employees from other countries to advance within the company. „We have a joke: there’s a French multiplier and there’s a skin colour multiplier,” one employee told Kotaku.
Ricour was named as someone particularly troublesome, and when he took over the helm from Olivier de Rotalier, one employee described it as „like replacing a velvet glove with an executioner.” Those who worked on Skull & Bones were in a worse situation. One dev told Kotaku that they were warned not to get on Ricour’s bad side, as „he’s very vindictive and petty,” and another source claimed that anyone who made that mistake would be „disappeared.” And while the internal investigation led to many Ubisoft higher-ups leaving or get fired (we won’t name them here, as we have kept an eye on the situation last year), Ricour wasn’t harmed! He went on leave after Gamasutra’s article was published, and Ubisoft didn’t do any investigations, unless, via an internal, anonymous reporting tool, the HR department issued one. He returned to work shortly after, and he apologized to anyone who felt uncomfortable.
Then, a third-party HR firm was brought in to investigate the matter, but it determined in October 2020 that there wasn’t enough information to warrant action against Ricour. However, Virginie Haas, who was appointed to be Ubisoft’s chief studios operating officer, announced internally in November that Ricour was removed from his post. But he wasn’t fired: he was simply relocated to Ubisoft’s HQ in Paris, and, according to his LinkedIn, he is now Ubisoft’s production intelligence director.
Ubisoft has spent over 120 million dollars on Skull & Bones so far, and Ubisoft Singapore’s devs claim that the toxic workplace culture is one of the reasons why the game is still in an early stage of development after many reboots.