Assassin's Creed creator sues Ubisoft
Patrice Desilets fights for the rights to 1666: Amsterdam
Former Assassin's Creed creative director Patrice Desilets has sued publisher Ubisoft for the rights to his planned game, 1666: Amsterdam. According to a report by Canadian, French-language newspaper La Presse (translated via Polygon), Desilets is seeking $400,000 in damages. That total is comprised of $250,000 for Desilets' promised base salary, $100,000 in legal damages, $35,000 for expenses, and $25,000 for his severance pay.
Desilets left Ubisoft Montreal in 2010 and founded THQ Montreal a year later, a move that had Ubisoft filing its own lawsuit alleging that Desilets poached employees from Ubisoft Montreal. That case was dropped by Ubisoft in October of 2012. While at THQ, Desilets and his team began work on 1666. When THQ went under, Ubisoft purchased THQ Montreal, bringing it back into the fold.
According to court documents obtained by GameInformer, Desilets and Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallet had a meeting where the continued development of 1666 was discussed. Discussions continued for a few months until March, when Desilets inquired about his previous contract while at THQ, hoping to make some changes and acknowledging existing clauses. He wanted the publisher to acknowledge that an "acceptable prototype" had been delivered prior to the end of July of 2012, or provide a waiver allowing Desilets team to continue development. Ubisoft disagreed, and instead wanted to renegotiate his existing contract.
"If Mr. Desilets has any interest in further pursing the 1666 project, he should calm down and sit back down at the table," said Ubisoft attorney Steve Smith in an email. "Ubisoft can develop and publish 1666 with Patrice Desilets or without him. It prefers to do so with him. If the parties cannot agree on a new contract, Ubisoft will fully honor its obligations under the existing contract. But it will also exercise its rights under the existing contract."
Desilets met with Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot at the end of March. At the meeting, Guillemot told Desilets that THQ had been "desperate" and given him "too much creative freedom" in his previous agreement. Neither party could agree on changes to the existing agreement, so Ubisoft called Desilets into a meeting on May 7, fired him, and forced him to leave the premises immediately. The publisher also "indefinitely suspended" production on 1666, without outright canceling the title.
Desilets original contract with THQ Montreal allowed for turnaround rights on 1666 if the game was canceled or the contract was terminated without cause. Within a six month window of the game's cancellation, Desilets had the option to pay 145 percent of the amount spent in production, marketing, and other expenses related to the game in order to retain the rights and assets. In the court filing, he asks the court to find that Ubisoft terminated him without cause, allowing him to exercise his turnaround rights.
"As stated before, the acquisition of THQ Montréal in January allowed Ubisoft to welcome 170 experienced developers to our existing and renowned workforce," an Ubisoft representative told Polygon in a statement. "Unfortunately, the discussions between Patrice Désilets and Ubisoft aimed at aligning Patrice's and the studio's visions were inconclusive. We received Patrice's legal request and will address it in court. We will make no further comment at this point."