The lights are on
On the morning of May 7, 2013, Patrice Désilets sensed something was different. Like any other Tuesday, the former Assassin's Creed steward was walking his daughter, Alice, to school before heading to the office to work on his new action/adventure game, 1666: Amsterdam. Unseasonably dry weather had left Montreal under extreme fire threat, with brush fires tearing through parts of the province and city.
Désilets was no stranger to fire hazards, having survived a metaphorical one when his former publisher THQ went up in flames the previous January. Ubisoft came to the rescue, purchasing Désilets' project and the studio housing his development team for $2.5 million in the bankruptcy auction. Many questioned if this new relationship would work, considering Désilets left Ubisoft three years prior after successfully rebooting the Prince of Persia franchise with Sands of Time and directing the creative vision of Assassin's Creed, the billion-dollar juggernaut that now serves as the crown jewel to the publisher's game lineup. Since the acquisition, Désilets had continued to chip away at his new project, which he envisioned as the next evolutionary step in the action/adventure genre.
Immediately after walking into his office, Désilets was summoned to the seventh floor – the home of the suits and ties that handle the studio's business affairs. Dropping his bag by his desk, he hopped on the elevator. When the door opened, he was greeted by Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat and Cédric Orvoine, who had recently been promoted to vice president of HR and communication at the studio. Seeing the pair there was not uncommon – they typically visited the office every couple weeks to oversee the administrative transition.
The meeting was short. Orvoine handed Désilets a piece of paper with one concise paragraph informing him that as of that moment he was terminated for cause due to his failure to deliver an acceptable prototype of 1666, which was in violation of his contract. Désilets asked if he could speak to his team and gather his things. His request was denied. As he was being escorted out of the building by "two burly and intimidating" Ubisoft employees, he said, "I'm being escorted out of the building like a thief, and I'm not the thief here. Somebody is stealing, and it's not me."
Désilets was left standing on the sidewalk empty-handed – his project up in smoke like the brush burning throughout the city. His studio, wallet, and keys to his apartment – all behind lock and key. After briefly saying goodbyes with former co-workers who came down to find out what happened, he headed directly to his lawyer to prep for the fight of his life.
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