Media: Beyond Good & Evil 2 nearly canceled in early 2019. What hell did the game do?

The French edition of Libรฉration released a number of materials about Rayman and Beyond Good & Evil creator Michel Ansel, who left the gaming industry. From the investigation of journalists it becomes clear that Ansel still didn‘t just โ€œretireโ€ like that. The reason could be his ineffective and โ€œtoxicโ€ principles of work.

The material was prepared through communication with Ubisoft Montpellier employees and interviews with Ansel himself. According to the developers, Beyond Good & Evil 2′s ambitions were beyond reality: Ansel wanted to create a huge world with the deepest elaboration of details where the player could safely navigate with planet to planet.

However, the main problem was not even this, but a constant change of direction. Ansel focused on himself everything, so nothing could be done without his approval, however small the decision.

A number of departments could simply expect an โ€œalmighty bossโ€ to comment on the developments so they could get back to work. As an anonymous employee recalls, Ansel is very egocentric.

He prefers to improvise with his own endeavors than to listen to the team for once and look at the months of its work on his own request. Within seconds, weeks and months of labor were sent to the basket.

At the same time, the game designer at personal conversation could behave completely differently than during meetings. He praises you, talks about the value of your work and explains how brilliant you are, he can publicly drop below the plinth and not talk for another month.

The enthusiasm of the Beyond Good & Evil 2 team slowly faded, someone started to have depression, burnout, apathy and nervous breakdowns โ€” people started to leave. At the same time shortly before the announcement of the second part, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemaud at the meeting spoke directly about the complex character of Ansel, however he is a โ€œsuperstarโ€.

It has special status with players. He should definitely lead the project because he can improve Ubisoft‘s reputation.

Managers had to โ€œfomentโ€ specialists from Ansel, but the game designer had to remain the head โ€œat any costโ€. This was Guillemaud repeated more than once, no matter how many he was warned about Ansel’s โ€œtoxicโ€ ways of working.

In the summer of 2017, a new creative head, Jean-Marc Geffrois, arrived at Ubisoft Montpellier. Before that, he worked on Ghost Recon, and in games much more liked gameplay, battles and โ€œplayer sensationsโ€ than the narrative, the world and the story โ€” what Ansel liked.

Geffrois had the full support of Serge Hascoet, who then ran the publishing house‘s creative team. Due to different ideals, Geffrois and Ansel’s relationship gradually heated up and the latter began to distance away, spending more time in Wild Sheep, wherehe co-worked with Sony on Wild.

In early 2019, Ansel contacted the head of Ubisoft, saying that Beyond Good & Evil 2 is โ€œno longer my gameโ€. In 7 years of development, the team managed to make only one city โ€” GanesSoon Yves Guillemot and Serge Haskoet arrived at Ubisoft Montpellier ready to cancel the game, but the team managed to agree on an additional year of development, as a result of which the studio should present a full episode โ€” a vertical cut or a first look at the finished product.

At the same time, Ansel himself would no longer engage in the project, only partially developing the mythology of the universe, including the Netflix movie. After that, the game had another creative director who โ€œvowed not to work with Ansel againโ€.

He handled the artistic side of BG&E2. Footage from the teaser of the original Beyond Good & Evil 2, which announced in 2008.

It was a sequel, not a prequel. Since that time, the team though not without problems, but worked on the game.

By the spring of 2020, a vertical cut was ready, which passed the inspection of Ubisoft‘s senior management, and Beyond Good & Evil 2 launched into full production. However, the team still feared that Ansel might return to the studio, who would throw more than a year of work.

When a massive investigation into the toxic work environment at Ubisoft began in the summer, many in โ€œMontpellierโ€ breathed a sigh of relief. โ€œThe management from Paris may finally take into account the wishes of the team!โ€ However, at the end of August, Guillemaud suddenly announced that Ansel’s situation was non-negotiable.

The Beyond Good & Evil 2 team appeared extremely disappointed with its CEO. Forget everything you saw by Beyond Good & Evil 2.

That hasn‘t been in the game for a whileHowever, Ansel’s โ€œharakiriโ€ when he announced his retirement from the gaming industry surprised many at Ubisoft Montpellier. In an interview with reporters, he acknowledged that the anguish and tension during the creation of BG&E2 was linked to the ambitious scale of the project.

Upon learning of Ansel‘s departure, the team breathed a sigh of relief. At that time it was not known, but Ubisoft launched an internal investigation into Michel Ansel’s activities after many complaints by employees against him.

That is most likely what caused the walkout. Now the influence of the former author of Beyond Good & Evil 2 is reduced to a paper on which 8 main theses of the concept of the second part are specified.

Two or three years of normal development are still ahead, but the studio veterans still wonder whether they want to stay to โ€œrelease this great projectโ€. Many still work at Ubisoft Montpellier just because of the belief that Beyond Good & Evil 2 can turn out to be a truly important release.

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