Former Ubisoft creative, Michel Ancel, may have left to avoid accusations of toxic managementPlatforms:
The gaming world was surprised when Michel Ancel, creator of Rayman and Beyond Good & Evil, announced he was quitting video games during the production of Beyond Good & Evil 2, after 30 years at Ubisoft to work at an animal sanctuary. The gaming world was melancholic about the loss of a visionary figure in the industry but ultimately supportive of him chasing his new dream.
Perhaps, if French news outlet Libération is to be believed, this sentiment was somewhat premature. Libération published several reports detailing accusations of toxic management on Beyond Good & Evil 2.
As a result of this report, Ubisoft and Ancel both confirmed that an investigation into the claims had begun before his resignation, but Ancel has denied the claims.
Users over at ResetEra have translated both articles from their native French with the original report alleging that Ancel forced development teams to abandon months of work on a whim due to his constantly shifting creative vision for the game. Apparently, the development team would even learn about new gameplay features through interviews with Ancel rather than direct communication. Many staff members claimed to have suffered serious mental health issues due to his irrational methods, and allegedly relations between Ancel and his staff got so bad that Ubisoft middle management that to serve as middlemen between the two parties to get anything done.
Any hopes that Ubisoft was committed to being more transparent with their audience going forward were apparently naive, as the company neglected to mention that Ancel was under investigation when he announced his departure, instead only offering their appreciation for his years of work. The investigation was only ever acknowledged when Ancel confirmed it its existence in a follow-up interview with Libération. However, if anyone is looking for accountability in this follow-up, they will be left wanting. Ancel avoided addressing his management style and behaviour, instead, talking more generally about Beyond Good & Evil 2’s troubled development, saying: “To say that there are moments of doubt, that the direction I'm taking is not understood or badly explained, it's possible."
After that interview was published, Ancel took to Instagram to fervently deny the accusations. "I will fight for the truth because such accusations are a shame. I worked hard on every of my projects and always had respect for the teams. The accusations are wrong."
He passes on responsibility for handling the development team to other nameless producers and managers, claiming that his job was simply to "bring vision" to the project while producers and managers handled how this vision was implemented. This does not really exonerate him as the accusations suggest his constantly changing vision was a major factor in their overload of work, all this does is deny that he never spoke directly to his team.
He would wrap up by denying any claims that he is being targeted by people that want “to destroy me and the projects.”
Whether these claims have validity remains to be seen, but given Ubisoft’s current track record it is not looking good. This is another example of the erosion of trust in Ubisoft, who wanted us to believe they were working to fix their toxic work culture but still opted to keep this a secret until the media forced their hand.