Monday, September 28, 2020
Having departed Ubisoft last week to work on a wildlife sanctuary after 30 years with the company, new reports have come to light in French newspaper Libération that Beyond Good & Evil and Rayman creator Michel Ancel allegedly left in the middle of an investigation into his toxic behaviour.
Apparently, while working on Beyond Good & Evil 2, Ancel's leadership is said to have resulted in frequent changes in the game's scope causing staff to experience extreme "exhaustion, depression, and burnout." Kotaku's translation of the Libération article points to this being one of the reasons for Ancel's departure, as the investigation into his role in managing the project brought him under close scrutiny.
"I have seen a good dozen people go on sick leave, probably more...Meeting people with tears in their eyes, it happens often," one source stated in another translation from ICO Partners CEO Thomas Bidaux on Twitter (via Eurogamer). "He is able to explain to you that you are a genius, that your idea is great, and then he can take you apart in meetings by saying that you are a piece of shit, that your work is worthless, and not talk to you for a month," a second source claimed.
Ubisoft confirmed that the investigation into Ancel's behaviour was indeed an "ongoing" concern, which entailed hours of questioning upon his departure. The investigation wasn't acknowledged in Ubisoft's announcement of Ancel's departure, however, and Ancel has since responded to the reports with a statement on his Instagram, in which he labels the Libération article "fake information".
"Take a 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 Ubisoft," Ancel's statement reads. "Is 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."
Ancel also claims that accusations of toxic management are unfounded as his role was to "bring a vision", rather than manage the development teams on Beyond Good & Evil 2. "Producers and managers decide what to do, when and how," he writes. "They are powerful people in the making of such a big projects. Why don't the journalist speaks about them?"
He also denies changing his mind constantly, and claims that the Libération article includes "fake informations revealed by a 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."
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