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Exclusive: After leaving Ubisoft, Patrice Désilets is back in the game at THQ

MONTREAL–Game designer Patrice Désilets stunned the video game world with his high-profile departure from Ubisoft in 2010. Désilets’s contract prohibited him from working for the past year but now the creative director behind “Prince of Persia: Sands of Time” and “Assassin’s Creed”  franchise is back in the game, having joined THQ’s new development studio in Montreal. In his first interview in the new digs in Montreal, Désilets opens up about the new job, the time off and what it’s like to be an underdog again in the gaming world.

Reuters: You’ve been at THQ for about a month, how do you find it?

Désilets: I’m not used to it (laughs). You can see in the industry that a lot of people change jobs often and then there’s me. I spent 13 years in the same company. I started July 2, 1997 and I quit May 28, 2010. In between, I did six games with roughly the same people, so I’m really excited. I like where we physically are in the city. I spent my professional years back in the Mile End and it’s nice to change the scenery. I walk to work and I like this district with these nice restaurants around.

The real thing for me is just to meet a bunch of new people. There’s 100 plus people to meet and I’m bad with names, but the energy is the same as when I started at Ubisoft. It’s a smaller place with less people but also, there’s the feeling that we’re the underdogs. So it’s all about the need to prove ourselves and do something great, instead of at a bigger company where you’re making sure you are still good and making sure that you’re growing.

Back then (at Ubisoft), nobody knew what they were doing. We didn’t have a lot of expertise back then. Now Ubisoft does. Here (at THQ), right away, I’m in meetings with people who know how to make a game, so that’s a lot easier than it was back then. But the energy of, “rah!  Let’s do something together and its going to be great,” is there and it’s less so at other companies.

Reuters: Do you feel pressure or extra responsibility because you are helping build a new studio in Montreal?

“Modern Warfare 3″ vs “Battlefield 3″ fight turns ugly

The showdown between next fall’s biggest first-person shooters escalated at E3 this week, with EA’s and Activision Blizzard’s top brass exchanging some vitriol. Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzard’s CEO first went on CNBC on Monday claiming that EA’s “Battlefield 3″ was just a PC title with only a ”small audience.” In response, EA’s CEO, John Riccitiello, told Reuters that Kotick was spreading misinformation about “Battlefield 3″ and that contrary to what Kotick said, it would be widely available on consoles.

Here’s what both CEOs told me:

BOBBY KOTICK, CEO, ACTIVISION BLIZZARD

“We just want to stay true to the interest of the Call of Duty fans and we try to not get distracted by what people are doing. I can’t objectively tell you what I think of other products until I see them. Battlefield I’ve only seen on a PC and nobody’s seen it on a console yet. Most of our consumers play games on a console. Until I see it on a console, I wouldn’t be objective on commenting on it.”

JOHN RICCITIELLO, CEO ELECTRONIC ARTS

“It’s the beginning of the war and (Kotick) recognizes they’re going to be threatened. We’re going to have a clash of the titans this fall. The very fact that he’s trying to cast doubt on our game is a perfect example of how we got his goat. In terms of where this goes, we think our PS3 game is better than their Xbox game and our PC game is better than their PC game. If that’s all he’s got to say, it’s obviously going to evaporate as we launch all three. If you went to our press conference, you saw the PS3 footage and the Xbox footage. If Bobby thinks that is PC footage, he’s in real trouble.”