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Michel Ancel's Ubisoft exit followed by toxic workplace allegations

Michel Ancel claims he left Ubisoft to work on an animal sanctuary project, but that may be less than the full truth according to new allegations about his exit.

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When it comes to Ubisoft management right now, we should probably seriously consider the old adage that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Such may be the case regarding Beyond Good & Evil 2 and Rayman director Michel Ancel’s seemingly innocent exit from Ubisost. While it seemed simple enough at the time, albeit abrupt, allegations are now coming out that Ancel may have been part of ongoing internal investigations of sexual harrassment and toxic workplace issues at Ubisoft, falling into the latter category.

Allegations of misbehavior and mismanagement regarding Ancel came to light in a report recently posted by French online media outlet Liberation, posted on September 25, 2020. According to Liberation, though Michel Ancel’s exit from Ubisoft was reported as an amicable resignation by Ubisoft and Ancel himself and that the latter was simply leaving the gaming industry to turn his attention to work on an animal sanctuary project, there may have been more to the story. Ancel may have instead been investigated for toxic management in a similar vein to allegations that forced Ubisoft Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoët to resign earlier this year, though nothing was ever officially confirmed or even addressed regarding Ancel.

Despite this, Liberation’s report suggested that employees under Ancel's management in the Beyond Good & Evil 2 project in particular described clearly toxic and volatile actions from Ancel. According to Liberation's sources for its report, Ancel would apparently throw out entire swaths of developer work on Beyond Good & Evil 2, deeming them unusable with little warning, as well as praising employees in one moment and then berating them soon after. The report also alleges that investigation against Ancel may have been dropped because he had garnered the favor of Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot who may have ended the investigation into Ancel.

All we know for sure at current is that Ancel claims he left to work on an animal sanctuary and Ubisoft issued a statement confirming it was an amicable exit. That said, and especially given the recent history coming to the surface in Ubisoft’s management, something seems less than pure on the whole matter. It will remain to be seen if Ubisoft addresses the new allegations or remains true to its original statement, but if it does happen to be true, it would prove to be very poor form by Ubisoft as the publisher/developer struggles to keep the trust and goodwill of its audience. Stay tuned as we follow this story for more information and details.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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