Stepping into the role of managing director amidst reports of sexual harassment and a toxic work culture is probably quite the challenge, but Ubisoft Singapore's new head honcho is hoping to change things around.
Previously hailing from Ubisoft Winnipeg, where he was MD as well, Darryl Long hopes to bring his prior experience as a programmer and producer to help improve and grow the Singapore studio as they scramble to meet the release date of Skull and Bones.
The AAA pirate MMO is made by the Singapore studio and is slated to debut in 2022 or 2023. It's been worked on for the last eight years.
"Let's be honest, it's the first time the team is making a triple-A in Skull and Bones. I've been able to bring my experience, to tell them that what you're going through is normal, it's okay, I can be the stable point for them," said Long, who has experience producing AAA games such as the Far Cry series.
Long further added that AAA production is difficult, if "not the toughest in the industry", and plans to support Ubisoft Singapore's staff to "do the best work of their careers".
Another focus that Long wanted was to work closely with local schools in Singapore and the Philippines, where he's also in charge. Long is hoping to be able to tap more local talents as part of his people-focused style, he told Yahoo in a recent interview (13 July).
And as to whether there will be a crunch period for the Singapore team to get Skull and Bones released on time, Long said the policy was not to force people to work over time, but instead on what "they can do to work together on the game".
It's a far cry (pardon the pun) from the previous management, which under Hugues Ricor, the former managing director, had created issues stemming from sexual harassment, racial pay disparities, and bullying, according to a recent Kotaku report.
Ricor was removed from his role in November 2020, and Long came on board in March 2021.
When asked what changes he had brought since he took over, Long told Yahoo he wanted to show a different management style and a different type of leadership, but did not provide further details on what it would entail.
"Here, it's 100 per cent people focused, it's about providing a vision of the future, so people know where we are going as a studio," said Long.
Yahoo reached out to Ubisoft again after the Kotaku report came out for comment. This was the statement provided.
"Over the past year, we've made significant changes to our policies and processes to create a safe and more inclusive workplace and empower our teams to create games that reflect the diversity of the world we live in."
It doesn't provide much details, but if Long can keep to his people-oriented promises, perhaps there may be improvements for its current staff at the Ubisoft Singapore studio.
Aloysius Low is an ex-CNET editor with more than 15 years of experience. He's really into cats and is currently reviewing products at canbuyornot.com