Following a rocky year that included allegations of abuse and misconduct, Ubisoft once again finds itself in uncertain territory. Ubisoft Massive managing director David Polfeldt is stepping down.
Axios reports that Polfeldt will no longer be the Division, Star Wars, and Avatar studio’s head as of July 1. Ubisoft informed employees of Polfeldt’s departure today by way of an internal memo. In it, the company explained that Polfeldt is “ready for a new challenge” and that after a six-month sabbatical, he will return to Ubisoft in a new “strategic role.” Polfeldt’s replacement has apparently already been lined up, but Ubisoft cannot say who it is yet.
Ubisoft confirmed the news in a statement to Kotaku.
“After more than 12 years guiding Ubisoft Massive to tremendous success, David Polfeldt is taking a brief sabbatical before returning to Ubisoft in a new role,” a Ubisoft representative told Kotaku in an email. “We have already appointed David’s successor and look forward to sharing more details at a later date.”
Polfeldt is far from the only powerful figure at Ubisoft to step down in recent times. Last year, after weeks of accounts of sexual misconduct, Ubisoft chief creative officer Serge Hascoët resigned, as did head of Ubisoft’s Canadian studios Yannis Mallat and global head of human resources Cécile Cornet. Most recently, Charlie Guillemot, co-head of Ubisoft mobile studio Owlient and son of Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, departed the company just last month. Owlient co-lead Rémi Pellerin left as well.
While Polfeldt was not implicated in any sexual misconduct allegations, his studio was; as part of an investigation into misconduct claims against Ubisoft, sources told Kotaku last August that Ubisoft Massive director of consumer experience Antoine Emond was being investigated after allegedly sexually assaulting an intern. As of March 2021, Emond is no longer working at Ubisoft Massive. Kotaku reached out to Emond and Ubisoft for more information, but the former did not reply as of this publishing, and the latter did not acknowledge Kotaku’s question about Emond’s departure.
While Ubisoft has yet to show its upcoming open-world Star Wars game, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora made its debut during the company’s E3 presentation last weekend, albeit sans actual gameplay. What Polfeldt’s departure means for the two high-profile games is unclear at this time, but generally speaking, big changes up top have a way of trickling down.