Jun 17, 2021 - Technology

Head of Ubisoft Massive steps down, will return in 'strategic' role

Photo of David Polfeldt and a screenshot of the upcoming Avatar game

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

David Polfeldt, a 16-year veteran of Ubisoft Massive, will relinquish his role as the mega-studio's managing director effective July 1.

Why it matters: Polfeldt departs at a time of upheaval of Ubisoft's studio leadership and of rising excitement around Massive's projects.

  • Massive, located in Malmo, Sweden, is one of the largest studios at Ubisoft and is currently working on upcoming games tied to the "Star Wars" and "Avatar" franchises as well as maintaining the popular post-disaster Washington DC-based adventure "The Division 2."

Between the lines: In a memo to staff today, Ubisoft head of studios Virginie Haas said Polfeldt had informed management last fall that he was "ready for a new challenge."

  • He will begin a six-month sabbatical on July 1 and will return to Ubisoft in a "strategic role," Haas wrote.
  • Ubisoft has identified a new leader for Massive who will start in October, but Haas wrote that they cannot announce that person yet due to a legal agreement with his current employer.

The big picture: Ubisoft has been in a state of major change for the past year.

  • Widespread allegations of workplace misconduct have led to the dismissal of departure of several powerful men across the company, including Ubisoft's chief creative officer. (Polfeldt was not implicated in any of that.)
  • Others have left at the end of big projects or out of frustration regarding company culture.
  • Last month, Axios reported that the co-leaders of Ubisoft's Owlient studio, one of whom is the son of Ubisoft CEO, were stepping down.

"[T]he studio is in fantastic shape, and I am exceptionally grateful for what we have accomplished together," Polfeldt said in a message posted to Massive's company blog.

"We have already appointed David’s successor and look forward to sharing more details at a later date," an Ubisoft spokesperson said in a statement.

  • Last fall, Polfeldt published a book about his time in gaming, titled "The Dream Architects: Adventures in the Video Game Industry."

This post has been updated with comments from Polfeldt and Ubisoft.

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