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Ubisoft’s Michel Ancel accused of abusive workplace behavior following departure

Staff who worked under Michel Ancel allege that he had an abusive management style while working on Beyond Good & Evil 2, according to a new report from French newspaper Libération. The news comes one week after Ancel announced his retirement from the video game industry.

Sources describe the Beyond Good and Evil 2 director’s management habits as erratic, saying he would frequently throw work out and disparage employees. They noted that Ancel’s time was split between Beyond Good & Evil 2 and Wild, a project from his own studio, Wild Sheep, which they claim led to a disorganized development process on the Ubisoft title over the years.

Employees told Libération that Ancel’s behavior was such a problem that managers were brought onto the project to limit how much he interacted with staff.

The report states that Ubisoft, which has been dealing with the fallout of other misconduct accusations, launched an investigation into the complaints against Ancel, but that CEO Yves Guillemot supported keeping him on as the game’s director. It’s unclear when the investigation took place, however.

In a statement to Digital Trends, Ubisoft confirmed the investigation, adding that Guillemot has not been in contact with Ancel since he was informed of the investigation in August.

“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,” a Ubisoft spokesperson told Digital Trends. “And as Michel confirmed to the journalist at Libération, he is under investigation. The investigation is still ongoing, and we have nothing further to share, as we respect the confidentiality of this investigation.”

Libération spoke to Ancel as part of the report. He downplayed his former staff’s feelings, chalking them up as par for the course for a major video game’s development. Ancel acknowledged the investigation’s existence, confirming that he was informed of it in August.

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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 .

A post shared by Michel Ancel (@michelancel) on

Ancel responded to the report on Instagram, calling it “fake news.” He disputes several pieces of the story, including reports that he would constantly change his mind during development and throw work out. Ancel says he did not manage the team, claiming that his role was just to bring a vision to producers and managers.

Ubisoft was hit with numerous allegations of abuse and harassment over the summer, which led to a number of high-ranking people in the company resigning. Ubisoft recently apologized for its company culture in a four-minute video released ahead of its most recent Ubisoft Forward event.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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