When Dragon Age director Mike Laidlaw joined the Ubisoft team, fans hoped for the development of the type of large-scale fantasy adventure he was known for. The director of Dragon Age plus the team behind Assassin's Creed - what could go wrong?
Well, as it turns out, quite a lot. Laidlaw's time with Ubisoft was quite brief, coming aboard in late 2018 and departing the company last January - a mere 13 months, compared to his impressive 14 years with former employer BioWare. Now, speaking with Bloomberg, Laidlaw has revealed that the split came about as a result of a major cancelled project.
Reportedly, Laidlaw and his team were working on a project titled Avalon, which was envisioned as a fantasy adventure telling the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. In 2019, the game was said to be "progressing well" and was planned to feature a "cooperative multiplayer world" inspired by Capcom's popular Monster Hunter series.
Unfortunately, despite its progress, Avalon was cancelled sometime in 2019 by then-Ubisoft Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoët. Reportedly, Hascoët was doubtful that Avalon would succeed, feeling that a game in the fantasy genre would not sell well unless it was "better than Tolkien." Although Laidlaw and his team worked to shift the game into both a science fiction and a Greek mythology-inspired setting, neither pleased Hascoët and the project was shut down entirely. The Dragon Age director left Ubisoft shortly after.
Hascoët, who resigned from Ubisoft following allegations of sexual misconduct and contributing to toxic workplace culture, has developed quite a reputation as someone who frequently used his power to edit and cancel projects. He reportedly removed several female characters from multiple installments in the Assassin's Creed series, which may have contributed to his dismissal. Hascoët is yet to issue a response to the allegations against him from current and former Ubisoft staff. The company has announced that they have launched an investigation into these claims.
It is unknown whether another studio will take on Avalon following its cancellation by Ubisoft.