Court Filing Details Breakdown Of Relationship Between Désilets And Ubisoft
Update: We have added the court filing and related exhibits to the bottom of this story.
Game Informer has obtained an unofficial translation of Patrice Désilets' court filing seeking recompense for his termination at Ubisoft's hands and the ability to secure the rights to 1666: Amsterdam. The filing details the long history between the two parties, including Désilets attempts to secure increased financial recognition and creative freedom at Ubisoft following the success of Assassin's Creed.
As we mentioned earlier, Ubisoft and Désilets previously were entangled in court over his departure for THQ. After that publisher's bankruptcy, Désilets' 1666: Amsterdam was acquired by his former employer. Following that, Désilets met with Ubisoft Montréal CEO Yannis Mallat. At that meeting, the prior departure due to creative freedom and the subsequent legal history were discussed, ultimately resulting in shared excitement over the continuation of development of 1666: Amsterdam.
According to the filing, after that point, direct discussion between the two was limited to the project at hand. The two met and conversed over a period of months about "technology, staffing, and budgets" as well as "creative and practical aspects surrounding the development."
Communication started to break down in mid-march, after Désilets had requested revisiting his contract with THQ (which had been assumed by Ubisoft). One of the key revisions was a request for Ubisoft to either acknowledge that the project was on track via acceptance that an "acceptable prototype" had been provided or waiver of the related clause allowing termination for failure to deliver. This culminated with a rejection of this request and an email from Ubisoft's entertainment lawyer stating, "Ubisoft can develop and publish 1666 with Patrice Désilets or without him."
On March 29, Désilets met with Ubisoft chairman and CEO Yves Guillemot. At this point, according to the document, Guillemot stated that THQ had given Désilets too much creative freedom and that "Ubisoft would have a problem" exercising control over him. Guillemot apparently also stated that Danny Bilson, former vice president of core games at THQ had been "desperate" at the time the deal was struck.
At the beginning of April, Désilets met with Mallat, was told that Ubisoft's position was firm, and that the developer had until April 10 to accept. On April 22, the two met for the last time and could not come to an agreement. The results were reported to Guillemot, who signed off on Désilets termination, which was handed down on May 7, 2013. Désilets was not permitted to gather his belongings or say anything to his team. He was instead escorted out of the building immediately.
The document calls for the following recompense:
- Reimbursement of all expenses through May 7, 2013 (totaling $35,000)
- Severance in the amount of $250,000
- Continuation of insurance through May 6, 2014
- Relocation and job search fees in the amount of $25,000
- Damages in the amount of $100,000 for misrepresenting the facts of the termination (Ubisoft stated that Désilets departed)
Additionally, Désilets seeks to exercise the "turnaround right" clause that would give him the rights to 1666: Amsterdam should it be canceled. Ubisoft has instead used the term 'on hold." Also, since Ubisoft has declared its belief that the THQ agreement has been terminated, Désilets cannot exercise the turnaround right at this time.
All told, this is likely going to be an ugly battle for not a great deal of money. The total financial outlay would be about $400,000 and the rights would not be delivered to Désilets without some form of compensation.