Former Assassin's Creed creative director Patrice Desilets is suing Ubisoft for $400,000 as well as the rights to his in-development game, 1666: Amsterdam.
Desilets left Ubisoft Montreal in 2010 and founded THQ Montreal a year later. As a result, Ubisoft filed a lawsuit accusing him of poaching employees from his former place of work. The lawsuit was dropped by Ubisoft in October 2012. In the meanwhile, Desilets and his team worked on a new game called 1666: Amsterdam before THQ bankrupted and Ubisoft purchased THQ Montreal.
Under Ubisoft’s reign, Desilets continued 1666: Amsterdam’s development for a few months before asking the company to acknowledge that an “acceptable prototype” of the game has been delivered within the period specified in his contract with THQ Montreal. Instead of assessing and acknowledging the game’s development state, Ubisoft seized the opportunity to renegotiate Desilets’ contract.
Desilets met with Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot in March to discuss the situation. During the meeting, Guillemot to him that THQ was “desperate” and gave “too much creative freedom.” With Desilets insisting on retaining all his contractual rights and Guillemot pushing for more control over the project, the two men failed to reach an agreement. As a result, Guillemot summoned Desilets to his office on May 7th, fired him and had security guards escort him out of premises immediately. The CEO also suspended 1666: Amsterdam’s development “indefinitely” without cancelling it explicitly.
Under the conditions of Desilets’ contract with THQ Montreal, he is able to attain the rights to the game if it was cancelled by the studio or the contract was terminated without cause. More specifically, Desilets has an option to pay 145% of the game’s development expenses within 6 months of the contract’s termination and retain all intellectual rights and game assets.
"If Mr. Desilets has any interest in further pursing the 1666 project, he should calm down and sit back down at the table," wrote 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."
In addition to forcing Ubisoft to hand over the game’s rights and assets, Desilets is also asking for $400,000 in damages comprised of $250,000 for his promised base salary, $100,000 in legal damages, $35,000 for expenses, and $25,000 for his severance pay.