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Michel Ancel Forms New Studio While Continuing Work on Beyond Good & Evil Sequel at Ubisoft

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

New venture is called Wild Sheep Studio

Iconic game designer Michel Ancel, who most recently led the brilliant Rayman Legends project at Ubisoft, has always come across as a free spirit, destined to seek his own direction away from the corporate priorities of the publishing behemoth. That desire seems to have been partly fulfilled, as he's now formed a small independent Montpellier-based studio called Wild Sheep Studio; it has just 13 staff and is working on a new game that will be revealed soon.

Ancel hasn't entirely left Ubisoft, however, and will continue to work part-time at Ubisoft Montpellier, with managing director of Ubisoft's Annecy, Paris and Montpellier studios, Xavier Poix, saying the following to Eurogamer.

We are fortunate to have some of the industry's finest talents, including Michel Ancel, working with us at our studio. In addition to spending some of his time on this new venture, Michel is leading the creative development of select projects at Ubisoft Montpellier, including an extremely ambitious new title that is very close to his and the team's heart.

That teasing comment naturally brings thoughts back to the ongoing saga of a sequel to Beyond Good & Evil, a title that graced the GameCube along with other systems. When pushed further Ubisoft did confirm that Ancel is working on that sequel, which was also suggested and hinted at earlier in the year.

In many ways, BG&E is an inimitable game - it appeals to all generations of gamers and is an inspiration behind many of Ubisoft Montpellier's past and future games. It's still far too early to give many details about this new title, but what we can say is that while Michel and the team at Ubisoft Montpellier are working with the core tenets of BG&E, they're developing something that aspires to push past the boundaries of a proverbial sequel and leverages next-gen technologies to deliver a truly surprising, innovative and exceptional game. The entire team is excited about the direction this extremely ambitious project is taking, and we'll have more to share later, as it progresses.

Unfortunately Ubisoft's support of the Wii U has dwindled following poor sales, to the point that it made the extraordinary admission that it has a finished game that it's holding back; in addition, references to "next-gen technologies" can often mean "not Wii U" — a sad reality of where it stands at present.

Time will tell, of course, and it'll also be interesting to see what Ancel's new independent studio produces with its first game.


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User Comments (42)



Spoony_Tech said:

I really wish the sequel was coming to the Wii U!

As for the rumored game sitting on a self, I don't really believe it. He can say what he wants about it but why would you just sit on a game and make nothing off of it?



MrGawain said:

Under the modern Ubisoft business model, will Beyond Good and Evil 2 be a reskin of Assassin's Creed, Rayman, or Just Dance?



Tsurii said:

@Spoony_Tech It's Ubisoft. I stopped questioning them, when they started complaining because Rayman didn't sell as well as it could've done.



markybbop said:

Ubisoft does make great games, its a real shame that they wont carry on releasing games for the wiiu. But if wiiu owners wont buy third party games for there console then you cant blame the companies pulling out releasing games



Mega719 said:

Next Gen can still mean Wii U(this is an old phrase that people shouldn't be using anymore) just because Wii U isn't as powerful as PS4 and PC(in realistic hardware sense) they still make fantastic games on the system. Rayman Legends and AC4 were fantastic and hopefully their abnormally secretive Wii U version of Watch Dogs lives up to expectations. I still love Ubisoft so i haven't given up yet



SpookyMeths said:

"Ambitious" and "pushing the boundaries" kinda just tells me "We spent like a kajillion dollars on this and have unrealistic expectations for it, but we'll blame that on the consumer, so it's OK." Also means that a Wii U version is unlikely.

Good for Ancel though. He has a very creative mind, so it's a good move for him to stick with Ubisoft to pay the bills and work on passion/vanity projects through his indie studio. Like the Christian Bale of developers. You do Batman so that you can afford to do whatever the heck you want in between.



sinalefa said:

The only Ubisoft games I care about are the Rayman games, so if Ancel goes indie, then I won't be giving Ubi$oft a single dime anymore.

Unfortunately, it sounds a little like Ken Levine, working like an indie but not leaving the parent company, so still subject to their rules.



GeminiSaint said:

The original BG&E was a short but sweet Zelda-like. If only it had done better sales-wise...



0utburst said:

I'm sure watchdogs 2 won't be coming to WiiU so I will not buy the first one when it comes out on the WiiU. I just bought Rayman this month so after that no more Rayman for me. The only game I'm looking forward from Ubisoft is the 2D Prince of Persia. The rest, I don't care anymore.



kensredemption said:

"In addition, references to 'next-gen technologies' can often mean 'not Wii U' — a sad reality of where it stands at present."

The Wii U "not being next-gen" is an ignorant assumption perpetuated by the fanatical fanboys of the Sony and Microsoft factions who worship higher resolutions instead of the quality of the games themselves.

The best is yet to come for the Wii U, and the hardware hasn't even been pushed to its limits yet. According to VeryTraumatic of YouTube and his review of Killzone: Shadow Fall, the PS4 has already been pushed to its limits graphically.

In addition to that, nothing about the games developed on either the PS4 or the XBO feel any different compared to anything on the PS3 and 360. I've said this before, and I'll say it again:

The Wii U is the only "next-gen" console on the market as it gives a genuinely new experience that sets it apart from its predecessors.



rjejr said:

@Spoony_Tech - "As for the rumored game sitting on a self, I don't really believe it."

Zombie U 2 featuring dual Gamepad couch co-op. Well at least it would make sense why they are holding it back. And Ubi has openly admitted to only making games w/ planned sequels so it would make sense if they had a sequel ready to go, even w/o the dual Gamepad support.



Jazzer94 said:

Yeah not keeping hopes up for BG&E 2 on Wii U, maybe Ancel's new game will be on the eshop if it is a small project.



rjejr said:

""next-gen technologies" can often mean "not Wii U""

Pretty much. Not expecting BGE2 on Wii U. Not even a little tiny sliver of hope.



ryuudou27 said:

How long have they been talking about and teasing BGE2 now? I refuse to believe it exists until it's in my hands.



JaxonH said:

I love Ubisoft. Always been a fan, always will be a fan. They have one of the greatest portfolios next to Nintendo.

Ubisoft has supported the Wii U with well over 10 games while all other developers turned their backs and wouldn't even bring one, and they continued to do so despite the laughingly poor sales on the platform. That's loyalty right there, and it counts for a lot in my book. Though I understand that business is business, and you can't stay loyal forever when you're bleeding money off a platform where no more than a couple hundred thousand gamers are interested in your games, and many are lucky to hit just 100k- which is an abominable number any way you slice it. Even so, they still bring the games they think might sell, such as Child of Light, and that's beyond admirable to me considering the rest won't touch Nintendo with a ten foot pole.

I'll support Ubisoft on Wii U when applicable, and I'll support them on other consoles too. Wherever the games go, I go. That's what a gamer does. A gamer goes where the games are, not stand in one spot and complain that all the games they want aren't falling in their lap.

I SO can't wait to play Beyond Good & Evil 2.



ricklongo said:

It's a shame BG&E2 probably won't come to the Wii U, because I think it's the kind of game that could win Nintendo enthusiasts over, and perhaps even sell better there (like Rayman Legends before it). Not holding my breath, but I do hope it comes our way.



eaglebob345 said:

@MrGawain It will be a sidescrolling reskin of Assassin's Creed using the Ubiart engine in which you dance. It shall forever be known as "Legends Beyond Assassins and Dancing".



Einherjar said:

@MrGawain xD My thoughts exactly. And it probably took so long because they had to make a female player character model. According to UbiSoft, its darn near impossible to create one and still meet your deadline.

But in all seriousness, in my opinion, most Ubi games are just smoke and mirrors these days. Style over substance, graphics over gameplay.

And to be honest, and although this will attract quite some flaming i guess, i never understood all the praise their games get. Especially not their flaggship series Assassins Creed.
The first one was an interesting idea, vaguely based on gameplay aspects of the "Sands of Time" trilogy in an open world. The second one was a huge step forward and surpassed its predecessor by miles...and then the series stopped evolving almost completely...
Heck, if you want to nitpick, even the title is wrong. For all the praise it gets for depicting "accurate historical events", going by the name Assassins Creed is not really that clever. The Assassins sect is mainly from syria and were mentioned by italian philosophers. So anything beyond that is far from historical accurate. But thats nitpicking on a high level.

Long story short: I really dont care about UbiSoft games. They are just another so called tripple A developer among many others who create games, that are completely interchangeable.
If youve played one modern open world game, you pretty much played them all.



ajcismo said:

Nothing like a little salt-in-the-wound reminder that BG&E2 will never see the light of day on the Wii U. Despite the gamepad being perfect for photo-centric gameplay.



TwilightAngel said:

This is not coming for the wiiu, maybe the developers will want to make a port for the system.But oobisoft will not let that happen cause of poor sales . That's sad i would love for this game to be made and come for the wiiu. Good thing i'm done with ubisoft and their games, so i wont be disappointed if the game never comes out.



Spoony_Tech said:

@JaxonH I agree with everything you said. I really like the effort for the most part and still want more of their games on the U. I currently only have 3. Any thing they can give is already 5 times more then any other company. My only problem is this so called game that's done. If that's the case why not tell us what it is? It's more of a in your face you will never see it anyways kind of statement. Just announce it like a normal company or don't say anything.



MAB said:

@Spoony_Tech Ubi already hinted that it was more of a family oriented type game anyway

(Curtains open)




Spoony_Tech said:

@MAB That's the funny thing, Why would they hold that back if it's true. My guess would be just another version of Just Dance. So once again why not tell us if this is the case either way. I'm going to guess it won't be a big deal.



TwilightV said:

I'd start buying their games again if they released this one. I wouldn't even care if they pulled their delayed release BS again as long as the game actually came out.



MAB said:

@Spoony_Tech They're holding Rabbids Land 2 hostage until next years drought... Then when Ubi release it they can say 'see, we still support Wii U'



datamonkey said:

I can't believe how many of you are "giving up on Ubisoft" just because their games haven't sold on Wii U and you're abandoning them? It's not their fault Wii U owners didn't invest in their games so you can hardly blame them from pulling Wii U support. They aren't charity developers!

Personally I loved Far Cry 3, AC4, Watch Dogs and Rayman Legends and am looking forward to their next round of releases. If that's not on Wii U then so be it, but I'm not missing out on loads of good games just because I'm a butthurt Nintendo fanboy... You're missing out otherwise...



AJWolfTill said:

@CaviarMeths You mean Christopher Nolan.
I truly hope Ubisoft sees fit to keep releasing at least it's biggest entries on the Wii U. The sales can only get better with the number of deployed Wii U consoles.



SpookyMeths said:

@AJWolfTill Not really. Nolan hasn't done a "small" film since The Prestige, but I would argue that all of his projects are passion projects. He owns his own production company, so he has the freedom of picking exactly which projects he wants. He IS Ubisoft in this case (well, sort of, he still relies on another company like WB for distribution, so maybe he's more like Platinum or BioWare).

I was trying to give an example of actors that attach themselves to a huge franchise because it pays very well, but also take interest in a number of smaller, artsier projects. Johnny Depp and Ewan McGreggor would be other good examples.



ModestFan93 said:

@markybbop When developers stop screwing over fans and releasing gimped versions of games maybe they'd see a return in their profits. And so blaming games for what happened.



JaxonH said:


I think they're trying to let the fans know that they still want to support our platform, but business is business and they have to do what they have to do. I think they announced it so we'd know they're still in the bullpen waiting to support the system, but that they must wait until the situation improves.

That's how I took it anyways.



Spoony_Tech said:

@JaxonH My only question would be whom and what determines how many systems have to sell. At the very least give us a number. 15 million 10 20. I take it as more of a slap in the face really. Otherwise I applaud them for the great effort up to this point. It's not like they haven't made a ton of money off Nintendo in the past.



JaxonH said:


I think they're watching software sales as much as hardware sales. I mean, hardware could only increase another million, but if 75% of those new customers are gamers who buy the kinds of games Ubisoft releases, then that could add several hundred thousand sales per game released.



Spoony_Tech said:

@JaxonH Well yes and no really. Of the current games most people can get any UBISoft game used so it wouldn't help their sales whatsoever. I think the only way they can be helped at all is eshop sales as retail is all about gone for them.



GuyWithTheGames said:

half the comments on this article in a nutshell: "love you ubisoft you released many wiiu games with only one of them selling, how there you be hesitant!"

can i just say i disagree with half the people on this site?
Watch the insults and profanity, please — TBD



MAB said:

@GuyWithTheGames Yeah you can say that mate... as long as you weren't referring to me because I actually bought all Ubisofts games on Wii U digitally thanks



Henmii said:

It takes soooo long (Beyond Good and evil 2). And if it gets finished, I guess it won't come to Nintendo (sadly).



Ryu_Niiyama said:

Hmm and my hope for BG&E2 has dwindled some. It may still happen sure but they have been working on this for a LONG time.

To be honest I'm going to take a step back from Ubi for a bit. AC has lost all direction, I don't really like Rayman (I have both games though), PoP is pretty much dead and I don't have much interest in the rest of their franchises. I fell off the Splinter Cell bandwagon after it became less about stealth and more about generic action. Yes, I have Blacklist...its in my backlog somewhere.

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