Longtime Ubisoft employee Darryl Long has been appointed managing director of Ubisoft Singapore and Ubisoft Philippines. Long has worked on major Ubisoft franchises like Far Cry and Rainbow Six and was most recently managing director of Ubisoft Winnipeg.
What does this new appointment mean for Ubisoft Singapore?
Long joins Ubisoft Singapore as it struggles with Skull & Bones, an open-world pirate game that's been in development for quite some time. According to a Ubisoft press release, Long will bring "hands-on knowledge of both tech and producing great AAA games". Ubisoft Philippines, the other studio Long will oversee, is a co-development studio on projects like Assassin's Creed Valhalla and the aforementioned Skull & Bones. Ubisoft is likely hoping Long can turn the fortunes of that ill-fated pirate adventure around.
For his part, Long says he is "incredibly impressed" by the work of Ubisoft Singapore and Ubisoft Philippines thus far. He goes on to say that his priorities with both companies will be to build a "culture of trust, inclusion and collaboration", which takes on a new meaning in the wake of recent revelations regarding Ubisoft's internal practices. It remains to be seen what Long's priorities will be in terms of reorganizing or restructuring Ubisoft Singapore and Ubisoft Philippines.
What does this mean for Skull & Bones?
Long's appointment as managing director for these two studios will be encouraging for anyone looking forward to Skull & Bones. For some time now, there have been murmurs that Ubisoft has rebooted development on the troubled project, reviving it as a live service game more in line with Rare's Sea of Thieves. Ubisoft appointing Long to this new position could suggest they might be looking to kickstart that revival, or take the game in a different path than it was currently going. However, it's also possible the project won't get any love under Long's direction. It's too early to tell right now, unfortunately.
Skull & Bones has a troubled production history. It was first announced back at E3 2017, after which Ubisoft went quiet about the project. In July last year, rumors began to swirl that development on Skull & Bones would be rebooted with the aforementioned live service elements. September 2020 saw Ubisoft posting an update on the game's development, stating that it "needed more time" to work on the game and "dreamt something bigger" for it than had previously been announced.
Later in 2020, Darryl Long's predecessor, Hugues Ricour, was removed from his position following a "leadership audit". Speaking to Kotaku, Ubisoft said it was "impossible for him to continue in this position" following an audit conducted by "external partners". This came in the wake of multiple departures following allegations of harassment and inappropriate behavior. With that in mind, it's possible Ricour was one of the employees found to be engaging in such behavior. Alternatively, it may be that they were unhappy with the progress of Ubisoft Singapore's first project as lead studio. Either way, it shows that there were problems at the studio, which necessated bringing in an outside, experienced voice to the studio in Ubisoft's mind.
We will, of course, bring you more on this - including whether or not Ubisoft has decided to drag Skull & Bones from Davy Jones' Locker (or I guess Darryl Long's locker now) - as soon as we get it. Until then, it might be time to start sharpening your cutlass and brewing your homemade grog again.
What do you think of Darryl Long's new job? Let us know in the comments below!