Update: Following his departure, it was confirmed that Ancel was under investigation within Ubisoft for toxic management practices. The full story is here.
Michel Ancel, a 30-year video game veteran and the creator of the Rayman series, has announced he’s leaving the industry in favor of greener pastures. Literally.
In a statement on his Instagram account, Ancel said that he would be leaving his job at Ubisoft and retiring from video games in order to work with animals in an educational context. He says that both of his major projects within the company, Wild and Beyond Good & Evil 2, are still making progress without his involvement, and that the team was mostly autonomous at this point.
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WoW ! This little guy has many things to teach to Sam Fisher ! Today is very special for me. After more than 30 years, I’ve decided to stop working on video games and fully focus on my second passion : Wild Life ! My new project takes place in the real world and consists in a wild life open sanctuary dedicated to education , nature lovers and … wild animals. ??? video games part ??? Many of you might want to know what will happen to Wild and BGE2. No worries, since many months now the teams are autonomous and the projects are going super well. Beautiful things to be seen soon. May the fox be with you ?
Following his own announcement, Ubisoft released a statement regarding Ancel’s departure through an update on Beyond Good & Evil 2 from Senior Producer Guillaume Brunier. The write-up said that Ancel hadn’t recently had direct involvement with the long-awaited sequel, but was foundational in shaping the vision for the game in the long run.
As Michel noted, he hasn’t been directly involved in BG&E2 for some time now, as the team have been hard at work building on top of the solid creative foundation he helped shape. The team’s collective strength has us well on our way to developing a flagship next-generation action-adventure game. We recently passed an important internal milestone, delivering a build that proves our Space Pirate Fantasy and offers hours of gameplay and an incredible level of freedom in a seamless online sandbox, building upon the promise of our tech demos shown at E3. I’m incredibly proud of the team’s perseverance, dedication to each other and ongoing commitment to developing an amazing game.
At the end of the statement, Burnier said the team plans to show more of Beyond Good & Evil 2 in 2021.
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Ancel’s directorial debut on Rayman in 1995 led to him having a prominent role in both the franchise and Ubisoft at large over the course of the following 25 years, including his directing the original Beyond Good & Evil and the King Kong adaptation released in 2005. More recently, Ancel had been working as director of Wild, a new IP that was revealed in 2014 before going basically silent for the following six years.
While Ancel is no longer part of the company, Ubisoft is still supporting Beyond Good & Evil in other ways, as the company is collaborating with Netflix to produce a live-action and animation hybrid show based on the series’ universe. This is one of several collaborations Netflix is doing with video game companies, including Splinter Cell, another Ubisoft franchise, that will be getting an animated series on the streaming service at some point.
Outside of Ancel’s departure, Ubisoft is dealing with some other major players leaving, but not for the same reasons. The company is in the middle of a reckoning after having a sort of Me Too moment, one that the company is doing its damndest to distance from all its super cool trailers about its rad video game products that will be available to purchase later this year.