One of the most tragic stories of the recent year was hearing about all of the rampant abuse going on behind the scenes throughout the Ubisoft company. There are many stories of sexual misconduct, harassment, and overall toxicity, and one of the casualties among the many was the work of ex-Dragon Age creative director Mike Laidlaw and fellow developers’ work on a King Arthur-inspired RPG. Under the rampant strain of workplace toxicity, Laidlaw eventually left Ubisoft, but now he and other EA and Ubisoft veterans are bringing their efforts together under a new studio in the form of Yellow Brick Games.
Yellow Brick Games was launched with a new website and Twitter on November 23, 2020. Laidlaw was definitely one of the standouts, but fellow founders Frederic St-Laurent B., Jeff Skalski, Thomas Giroux are no slouches. St-Laurent B. and Skalski oversaw much of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate among other projects while Giroux had a heavy hand in projects like The Crew, LiveLock, and art direction on various Tom Clancy games to name a few. Based in Quebec City, the studio hopes to create a “back-to-basics” approach to game development.
With the combined experience of its founders and a small team of 15 at announcement who are working remotely, Yellow Brick Games hopes to bring decades of lessons together in a meaningful way as it prepares its future projects.
"We have learned a lot from working on world-class, multi-year projects with thousands of colleagues and we want to take a different approach," Skalski explained. "Leveraging a smaller talented team where people come first, we will create amazing worlds and experiences for all others to enjoy. The market is moving fast, and we have no desire to play catchup and chase it when we can influence where it goes."
For Laidlaw, whose team at Ubisoft found themselves constantly constrained to the strict and unforgiving leadership of former Ubisoft Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoet, it’s not only about bringing new worlds and adventures to players, but also making sure the input of studio team members is valued.
“For veterans of big-studio productions like myself and much of our team, this is the perfect time to get back to a small, agile, and highly motivated group," Laidlaw continued. "We want our games here at Yellow Brick to take potentially millions of players on wondrous journeys, and we want every member of our team to have a direct impact on the new worlds we’re creating.”
Yellow Brick Games joins several high-profile studio openings in 2020, including Dreamhaven and Frost Giant Studios, which were formed out of ex-Blizzard employees, and Starward Industries, formed out of CD Projekt Red and Techland talent. If the efforts of these separate groups and more come to fruition, it looks like there’s wealth of good games from awesome talents on the horizon.