Ubisoft’s trademark renewal of 1666: Amsterdam has turned a few heads. The mysterious game, which appeared to have fallen victim to THQ’s implosion, was assumed to simply be on the shelf, but Ubisoft appears to be making moves to revive it. And if so, it’s decided to enter into a messy legal realm.
1666: Amsterdam is at the center of a dispute between Ubisoft and the creative director of the first two Assassin’s Creed games, Patrice Désilets. Désilets quit Ubisoft for THQ and announced 1666: Amsterdam soon after. The game has largely been intriguing based on Désilets’ past work; we know almost nothing about it beyond claims it was the “next Assassin’s Creed.” After two years of development there, THQ shut down and sold off its assets, including, awkwardly, its Montreal studio with Désilets in the lead. He lasted five months before departing, and immediately sued to get 1666 back. He managed to get a ruling where if the game was outright canceled, he’d have the rights returned to him.
So Ubisoft “suspended” the game instead. In theory, it’s been waiting for the right time to return, so renewing this trademark may be a hint that it’s decided to pull Désilets’ baby off the shelf. Désilets has yet to weigh in, but we doubt he’ll be overjoyed. And it does raise the question of why Ubisoft is taking any motion on the project at all.
Of course, renewing a trademark doesn’t mean a game is on the way, but it tends to be a positive sign. And Ubisoft might be feeling the pressure of lacking an annual franchise; Assassin’s Creed is being given room to breathe, and it’s clear its other franchise can’t be pushed to an annual schedule, so it may need a new IP. Still, reviving a property that will, if any forward motion occurs, almost surely mean at best a PR headache to deal with is a bit of a surprising move. If there’s really any forward motion on the game, we likely won’t have long to wait; Ubisoft will almost certainly be announcing its slate for the next few years at E3.