Ubisoft-THQ dispute yields recruitment injunction

Following January order, Canada court grants French publisher's additional request to prevent further poaching after Assassin's Creed creative director's departure.

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THQ entered Montreal in a big way in 2009, announcing plans to open a 400-member development house with a focus on core titles, the first of which is due in 2013. To head up this studio, THQ scored a coup in 2010, luring Assassin's Creed creative director Patrice Desilets from Ubisoft Montreal. Not long thereafter, THQ core game boss Danny Bilson bragged that the Montreal studio had poached three more "key members" from Ubisoft to aid Desilets.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Ubisoft, as it would turn out, is none too pleased about the defections. French-Canadian newspaper Rue Frontenac reported yesterday that Ubisoft has successfully petitioned the Superior Court of Quebec for an injunction against THQ to prevent further poaching from its studios.

According to court filings obtained by Rue Frontenac, Desilets abruptly resigned from Ubisoft on May 28, 2010. Prior to his resignation, Desilets was classified as a level 5 employee at Ubisoft, a top-tier distinction held by approximately 4 percent of staff. As such, his resignation was reportedly not taken well by Ubisoft management, and he in no short order received phone calls from CEO Yves Guillemot and Montreal studio president Yannis Mallat.

The court documents also indicate that Desilets was highly remunerated for his talents at Ubisoft. Having started at Ubisoft in 1997 with a salary of C$25,000, Desilets' salary had grown to C$150,000, with additional compensation tied to sales performance of his titles. Over the final three years of his employment at Ubisoft, Desilets reportedly earned north of C$1.3 million in total compensation.

By July 30, Desilets had officially entered into employment at THQ, though he was limited by a one-year non-compete clause in his contract with Ubisoft. This non-compete clause reportedly prevented him from releasing a project or recruiting employees before May 2011. However, Ubisoft alleges that Desilets did just that, linking the departure of art director Alex Drouin, production manager Mark Besner, and associate producer Jean-Francois Boivin to the aforementioned statement by Bilson.

In January, Ubisoft was granted its first injunction against THQ and Desilets to prevent further recruitment. However, shortly thereafter, former Ubisoft employee Adolfo Gomez-Urda reportedly met with Ubisoft Montreal localizer Margherita Seconnino, offering a 60 percent pay raise to come work for THQ. The new injunction extends the Court's previous order to include Gomez-Urda.

Neither THQ nor Ubisoft had responded to a request for comment on the matter as of press time.

Discussion

80 comments
lichboy12
lichboy12

now we know who is the Templars, and who is the Assassins lol

eugoreez
eugoreez

AC still have lots of story to tell... hopefully this wont effect AC that much...

Abberon
Abberon

@GamerLegend10 Other than Assassin's Creed ubisoft has been bombing most of their titles. Personally I think AC is a lame franchise as well, but there are enough people out there who are satisfied by good graphics and the idea of playing as a badass lone-wolf assassin to cover for the incredibly boring/easy gameplay and the lame stories.

emperiox
emperiox

I really hope that this doesn't affect Assassins Creed 3...

gbrading
gbrading moderator

Companies "borrowing" employees from other companies is nothing new. The trouble is that these companies are less eager to take on brand new, aspiring developers, rather than established ones.

DoomRider13
DoomRider13

Two big fish in a small pond! Since I'm living in Montreal, I can tell it's a small city compare to New York, Los Angeles,... Ubisoft is affraid of THQ at first because of the unfairness way to attact employees from their company instead from colleges or universities for exemple! Don't get me wrong I like both companies, but THQ plays the hard way! That's my point of view!

AceCometh
AceCometh

It's a "dog eat dog" world. Not even video game companies are immune!

Shinobi_Daisuke
Shinobi_Daisuke

I have a sinking feeling that AC3 will suffer greatly for this.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@Raxyman sure, but im no die hard fan, just a fan, but i like ubisoft and THQ.

Raxyman
Raxyman

@DennisWZH Now that you metioned it XD. I hadn't noticed that thought. True, gaming companies are getting LOL on law and jurisdiction.

Raxyman
Raxyman

@GamerLegend10 Dude, for sure you are a diehard fan of Ubisoft. Because of that you aren't understanding what i am saying, since this is a mere opinion clash there's no reason to continue arguing. Nothing you said convinced me that Ubisoft is a great company, and nothing i said convinced you either, i say let's call it a day. No point in carrying this discussion any further.

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

Ubisoft franchises have been going downhill, with the exception of Assassin's Creed- AC2 was a HUGE improvement on the original. I haven't played Brotherhood yet, but seems like it is, at the very least, an extremely meaty extension of AC2 (which in my opinion is fine, mostly because they didn't call it Assassin's Creed 3- though it would have been a better idea to launch it at $40; kind of like Dragon Age: Awakening). Prince of Persia seriously needs a comeback and Splinter Cell needs to go back to being a difficult game that requires a lot of thought to tackle. Metal Gear has the stylish stealth action genre locked down and what made Splinter Cell unique is that its gameplay felt like a series of stealth infiltration puzzles that required not just quick reflexes, but a good plan to conquer. All of the cinematic flourishes in Conviction made it feel too much like a vanilla action game with stealth elements, instead of being the more authentic stealth experience the series began as. I still see Chaos Theory as the high point in the series and the constant attempts to reinvent the wheel have just made the whole series feel dumbed down. What they need to do now is downgrade their new fangled wheel into a good old fashion circle!

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

@method115 Just saw the trailer for "Insane"- didn't show too much, but if anyone can give THQ a unique IP, it's Del Toro; keep an eye out for that one.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@Abberon ripped you off??? how? many of their games are fantastic and well worth the money

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@Raxyman i cant really be bothered with this but oh well: "First, read the news above, tell me if a great company would do that" yup, because ubisoft is great and its doing it "Assassin's Creed it's a great game that was screwed up because of Multiplayer, Tom Clancy was some great series, until Ubisoft said "Hey, realism games don't sell too good, let's turn all into arcade" and then you go with a R6 Vegas 2, SC Conviction and a Ghost Recon" - Assassins creed still is great, with or without multiplayer - Rainbow 6 is brilliant, i dont see any problem there - SC conviction i do not yet own, but have played and in some ways i agree with you, it is not the same as the previous games which i have loved all of, but it is still a good game. -and Ghost recon is good aswell "THQ and Ubisoft isn't that much different to that of "EA" and Activision" no...but why "Soon enough THQ will form another "Respawn" studio..."??? that is what does not make sense

Nihmmoh
Nihmmoh

everyone calm down... its an april fools joke

KillerBill316
KillerBill316

I wonder which side is the Assassins and which is the Templars lol

DennisWZH
DennisWZH

since when can you get a court order to prevent someone from getting a higher pay job.. law is so lol..

Nodashi
Nodashi

Make the "out of business" part of the contract scarier. Simple as that. Other than that, every company headhunt talents in competitors. Business, baby.

buft
buft

people should be allowed to go where the money is, if the shoe was on the other foot i bet the studio wouldnt think twice about letting these dudes go.

TribesV
TribesV

60% higher pay raise, you can count me in.

MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

It's all business, nobody can be expected to stay in one place their whole life on the other hand it sucks that so many dev teams are losing the creative minds that drive development of games. It's not just Ubisoft, what if Rockstar lost Dan Hauser or Ed Boon had given up on games when Midway went down, would games made by Rockstar or the MK team be as good without those guys?

Raxyman
Raxyman

@GamerLegend10 Hummm, Ubisoft is great? First, read the news above, tell me if a great company would do that. Second, great companies that come into my mind is Frictional games, Codemaster and i like Bethesda, though sometimes it's dissapointing their actions. Ubisoft has great IP's and thats it, Assassin's Creed it's a great game that was screwed up because of Multiplayer, Tom Clancy was some great series, until Ubisoft said "Hey, realism games don't sell too good, let's turn all into arcade" and then you go with a R6 Vegas 2, SC Conviction and a Ghost Recon that doesn't matter how cool they are, they didn't live up to Tom Clancy's name. I agree with Abberon, i try to avoid ubisoft titles, any game i want from them i buy used or borrow from a friend. And he relationship between THQ and Ubisoft isn't that much different to that of "EA" and Activision. They both neglected their workers and them both care all about the money. Having good games is hardly a reason to call some producer 'great".

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@Raxyman what the hell??? "Soon enough THQ will form another "Respawn" studio..." That does not even make sense. The relationship between THQ and Ubisoft is much different to that of infinity ward and Activision "Ubisoft=Activision?" er...no Ubisoft is great, whereas Activision is...well Activision is so bad it is hard to describe.

Abberon
Abberon

I avoid ubisoft titles like the plague. They've ripped me off far too many times for me to have any sympathy for them. Go THQ!

Guiltyspartan11
Guiltyspartan11

Oh well Ubisoft is crying because THQ is willing to show some money for good talent.

Raxyman
Raxyman

Ubisoft=Activision? Soon enough THQ will form another "Respawn" studio...

snfonseka
snfonseka

Ubisoft, you have a competitor. If you can't compete with it it's your fault.

AmZD
AmZD

Ubisoft, start compensating your work force better and they won''t leave any more. Patrice was offered a unique chance to have his own team and complete creative freedom to do what he wanted, all of that with more money then what Ubisoft were offering. How can you say no to that?

aznj03
aznj03

i find it surprising that the non-compete was for 1 year. In the tech industry, non-competes are usually unenforceable over that full time period since the industry in general moves very fast, and most companies generally don't even bother trying to get 12 months out of it because it would be struck down. While games are not a part of that industry per se, I would say that videogame's innovate and change just as fast, so it would be interesting to see if the courts will find the non-compete enforceable in the first place. Of course, I'm not Canadian, so I don't know what the law is there.

jemoedr
jemoedr

Well Ubisoft's is partially right. Seems Desilets may have broken his contract. On the other hand, if THQ offers better contracts... But well, it are really microsoft-like strategies from THQ. They're just buying it all out.

method115
method115

@grey_fox1984 Can't disagree with that they really don't have anything that stands out like a Halo/Metal gear solid. They've had more smaller success with their wrestling games and now UFC/ red faction. From what I've played though they seem like a company that could very well create that new great game. I''ll agree with you though they seem to stick to other peoples formulas to much. The company was almost bankrupt though so taking chances might not be a good idea right now for them.

ionusX
ionusX

this is actually true this is march 30th news.. not april 1st

Fz1994
Fz1994

hey its first of april! april fools all! =)

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

@method115 I'm not entirely dismissing Red Faction, and you're right, the new one looks decent. Even the past few (which I have played bits and pieces of, but never owned) were alright games; the problem is that it seems like most promising THQ franchises are always very derivative of other good franchises. Red Faction has tried to be Half Life (RF1) Halo (RF2), Mercenaries (RF: Guerilla - which in all fairness, is arguably better than either Mercenaries title) and now Resident Evil 5 (Armageddon). The Saint's Row series has always been a less well-written GTA derivative and Homefront is basically a mishmash of Modern Warfare and Battlefield set to story of the new Red Dawn movie. I just can't think of a series from the company that stands out as a real landmark for the genre. Almost every other company has one. (Konami has Metal Gear Solid, Capcom has Street Fighter, Tecmo has Ninja Gaiden... ect.). They seem like a publisher who is trying desperately to be EA or Activision, but without the stand out franchises to really hop in the ring.

method115
method115

@StaticKornSlipX Agreed I don't get how UBIsoft has any right to take this to court but maybe I just don't know the whole story. I think I read that UBIsoft is a Canadian company? That might be the problem here THQ coming into Canada and screwing up a Canadian company.. I don't know.

method115
method115

@grey_fox1984 Red faction got a lot of fans and got great review scores. I didn't see anything special about it to much at all but I did like the past red faction titles. The new one they have coming out looks a lot more like my style (resident evil 5 kind of) and it looks like they went back to the old school type of games. I'm keeping an eye on it for sure.

Hammrlik
Hammrlik

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

X-RS
X-RS

after playing the past price of persias, it seams ubisoft wont take any drastic measures with the franchise and it is drasticly being made for more casual gamers.....forgotten sands on wii, which was done by quebec studios, was MUCH better and introduced actually FUN gameplay. im sure the only reason devs had freedom was because its a wii tittle =/ ubsoft has all this potential, but it fails to reach the end product so it can be dumbed down. thq has been responsible for saints row trilogy, likely a darksiders trilogy, and mebe homefront.

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

Are there any truly great THQ games? I think the last one I bought was the original Red Faction and it started to feel like a poor man's Half Life the second the geomod novelty wore off. Assuming I'm not a fan of wrestling games (which I'm really not- and that includes the UFC titles), is there any reason I should ever care about an upcoming THQ title? I'm not trying to be a jerk, I'm seriously asking out of curiosity- is there anyone out there who likes THQ for anything other than the WWE/UFC titles?

andy_rosemary
andy_rosemary

No surprise Ubisofts' employees leave the ship. Ubisoft's most recent strategie is to milk their very last popular franchise to make more profit. Staff is getting more and more depress as they're working on crappy title or big name games without decent budget. My respect to those who loved ACBrotherhood, but the game could have been SO much better, but it's part of their milking strategie. More big titles in less time...pfff, no wonder Desilet left, he is just to talented to accept this concept. And yeah...for our US readers, here in Quebec the gouvernment founds the new technology company, so part of our salary is paid by the gouvernment which is us and we are clearly underpaid compared to some other countries.

Tronzo
Tronzo

Sure is a lovely day here on April 1st.

oneligas
oneligas

i though video game developers employees were all treated like hired assassins any way. such as here's the job, get it done, go on to the next job for a new employer. or maybe it's more like long term temp workers.

pokecharm
pokecharm

I wish companies could be expected to be a civil as we are - poaching of talent...if Ubisoft paid and treated their employees better, would this be an issue? Maybe Ubisoft should look at itself before saying, 'don't take my things I don't appreciate.'

DrMatta
DrMatta

Of course employees are looking into other studios. Ubisoft is a sinking ship. They're ruining every franchise fans hold dear in order to nab more sales. The only franchise they seemingly truly care about is Assassin's Creed. Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six have turned into casual shooters. No respect for the fans at all.

BlitzWing182
BlitzWing182

i hope AC3 doesn't get screwed over by all of this

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

THQ vs Ubisoft despite Canada otherwise sucking. The Montreal studios offer money to get the best talent. However if the games end up bombing...