Last week, the gaming world lost who many considered a legend in the business, Ubisoft’s Michel Ancel. The creator of Rayman and Beyond Good and Evil, Ancel had worked for Ubisoft for 30 years before suddenly announcing his retirement on Instagram. In his post he stated he’s moving on to another passion and getting involved with wildlife preservation. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.
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Libération, a French publication, released an interview with Ancel this week, which contained a bombshell of sorts. We say of sorts because, while these kinds of stories are always upsetting, we can’t say it’s surprising considering current events. As it turns out, and confirmed by Ancel himself in this interview, the famous creator left Ubisoft while he was among the many executive-level and otherwise under investigation for toxic behavior (or worse) at the company.
The piece also included comments from sources who worked for Ancel at Ubisoft, some of which were translated at Kotaku. The details of the investigation are obviously unclear, but the translated quote reads as follows:
“He is capable of explaining to you that you are a genius, that your idea is wonderful, then to dismantle you in a meeting, saying that you are nothing but shit, that your work is worth nothing, and not speak to you for a month.”
The allegations leading to this investigation appear to be connected to Beyond Good and Evil 2, a game that has been in development for several years. As is the case for games like this the development has been a long and difficult process, but allegations in the article insinuate a lot of emotional stress and employee burnout was a result of how Ancel managed the project and treated his staff.
While those details are and perhaps never will be “confirmed,” what was confirmed is that the investigation into Ancel’s behavior is real, and is still active. In addition to the comments Michel made in the original report, Ubisoft has also confirmed the situation in a statement (also to Kotaku). The statement reads:
“Yves Guillemot committed back in July that any allegation will be investigated and no one will be outside of that process–and this would include Michel Ancel. And as Michel confirmed to the journalist at “Liberation,” he is under investigation. The investigation is still ongoing and we have nothing further to share as we respect the confidentiality of this investigation.”
Ancel later updated his Instagram with a response to the matter, which you can see here:
View this post on Instagram
Fake News Take few people with rage and jealousy and let them speak in the name of hundreds. Publish the news fast so that it combines with sexual harassment from other news at Ubi soft. I this serious? Is this what you expect from a national newspaper. 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 . 1- Toxic management : I am not managing the team. I bring a vision and producers and managers decide what to do , when and how. They are powerful people in the making of such a big projects. Why don’t the journalist speaks about them? 2- I always change my mind : false. E.g. I’ve spent years explaining why the city should not be re done from scratch. Hours explaining that characters were good enough and did not need to be redone . Same for planets and all. But sometimes some people in the team changed things despite my advices. Managers are here to solve this. 3- the 2017 demo was fake and was a video: false . The 2017 demo was solid and made possible the 2018 demo. As opposed to what is in the news, the 2018 demo had the right details , was using real streaming, procedural generation and was playable online. This was a masterpiece of technology. The news from liberation contains fake Informations revealed by few people who wants to destroy me and the projects . This can’t be done without me fighting every single lines of that news. I’ve offered the journalist the opportunity to take enough time to look at all the mistakes. Let’s see what he will do .
If you don’t know what we’re talking about here, we don’t blame you since Ubisoft has been weird about acknowledging the situation in its consumer-facing content. Several allegations came out from within Ubisoft this year, in what was a very specific “Me Too moment.” Multiple executives and other employees ended up under investigations for similar behavior and arguably worse, which has led to multiple resignations and firings.
- Ubisoft VP Leaves Studio Following Abuse Allegations
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- Ubisoft Removes Controversial Ghost Recon Video, Reports Show Massive Internal Frustration With Company
There’s no telling what this particular investigation means, since at this point Ancel has already left the company. We may never even learn the results of it, unless more news breaks in a similar manner. If it does, we’ll all certainly hear about it.