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Skull & Bones loses third creative director ahead of union campaign

The development woes for Skull & Bones continue.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

September 6, 2023

2 Min Read
Pirates in key art for Ubisoft's Skull & Bones.

According to a new Kotaku report, Ubisoft's Skull & Bones has been besieged by more development troubles. Lead developer Ubisoft Singapore has reportedly lost Elisabeth Pellen, the third creative director brought on to help with the online pirate game. 

Pellen began working with Ubisoft Singapore in 2018, only to leave earlier this summer to serve as Ubisoft Paris' editorial director. During her time with the Singapore team, it's said she helped pivot Skull & Bones to its current status as an exploration and survival-focused game.

A spokesperson speaking to Kotaku wrote that Pellen "went to Ubisoft Singapore with a mission to reboot the creative direction of Skull & Bones. She succeeded, and the Skull and Bones team is now fulfilling her vision to deliver a unique naval action RPG experience to our players."

The outlet's sources claim she was expected to remain at the Singapore studio at least through the end of 2023. 

Skull & Bones (and Ubisoft's) labor issues keep growing

Development on Skull & Bones has been tumultuous since its reveal in 2017, some of which has been owed to allegations of misconduct (such as sexism and racism) at Ubisoft Singapore. As a result, the country's Creative Media and Publishing Union (CMPU) has reportedly begun to organize a labor campaign at the studio. 

Per Kotaku, a Ubisoft spokesperson confirmed a ballot exercise is being enacted this week for "eligible [Singapore] team members...to determine whether formal recognition should be granted." At time of writing, it's unclear which employees are considered eligible to participate in said exercise.

The involvement of the CMPU marks the third labor force this year to become entangled in Ubisoft's workplace culture. At the start of 2023, the French union Solidaires Informatique filed a complaint against the developer following controversial comments from CEO Yves Guillemot to company staff.

Weeks later, in February, the Montpellier team was under investigation by French authorities looking into an allegedly high burnout rate from staffers in 2022. Not long after the investigation, Montpellier's managing director Guillaume Carmona departed the studio.

In the case of Ubisoft Paris, that later resulted in 40 employees striking and allegations of extensive crunch during the development of Just Dance 2023.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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