Michel Ancel recently announced his departure not just from Ubisoft, but from the entire video games industry, and stated that his next venture will be a wildlife sanctuary.
The dust had barely settled on this massive announcement when French newspaper Libération issued a report which accused the designer of toxic leadership during his time with the company.
According to Kotaku, many of the complaints made during this investigation are directly related to the development of Beyond Good and Evil 2, the epic sequel Ancel has left behind following his departure from Ubisoft. The game's protracted development is, the report claims, partly down to Ancel's poor management and repeated changes to the scope of the project, which has allegedly taken its toll on staff, resulting in absences due to stress.
According to one source:
Michel needs the ideas to be his. He often prefers to improvise something of his own rather than listen to the team and look at the structured work we've done at his request.
He is able to explain to you that you are a genius, that your idea is great, and then he can take you apart in meetings by saying that you are a piece of s**t, that your work is worthless, and not talk to you for a month.
Ancel has taken to Instagram to contest the report, stating:
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.
I left Video Games because I was exhausted, this is not a way for me to escape any responsibilities. Like many other people, I participate to the independent investigation because I still believe in truth and justice.
Last week, Ubisoft appeared to tease a new game in the ongoing Rayman series which Ancel created 25 years ago, but then deleted the "confusing" post. Speaking of Rayman, Ancel recently posted a piece of fan artwork on his Instagram account.
It sickens me seeing him use Rayman and Globox "trying" to defend himself.
Bad (alleged) leadership at UbiSoft? Surely not!
I can tell from his statement what sort of man he is. Gross.
Impossible to really know much from accusations like this. He's been there for 25 years. Did he call someone a "piece of sh*t" on 1 occasion when everything was especially heated right before launch? Or did he do it on a regular basis whenever anyone annoyed him?
Those are 2 completely different visions of someone.
No matter if he’s falsely accused or the second coming of Idi Amin, I very much doubt we (the spectators who don’t know the man) could or should make an appropriate judgement of the situation from a distance without a true understanding of the fact and context.
And that goes for our judgement of anyone we don’t know personally, either famous or not.
I just recently saw a GameXplain video saying that he left because of his Toxic Behavior, and while if it's true, I find it unacceptable and I have lost most respect from him, this isn't as bad as other problematic staff, including Ubisoft's Higher-ups like (I think) the CEO.
@MrGawain That sentiment would be all well and good if it weren't so often used to protect abusers by absurdly insisting upon legal thresholds for all judgment, whether legal or not. This is a comment thread of people who can have no consequence for Mr. Ancel; we are allowed to conclude where there might be fire.
I can't speak to this case of course, but it seems to me that one can't do anything these days without someone getting angry and taking revenge. No one is perfect, and in a position of trying to do something of importance all your character flaws are likely to be on display. Internet is ruining coping with being human in sane ways.
SO he is basically saying that these people are lying because they are jealous that he created Rayman and they didn't? That only makes him look like the tool they accused him of being honestly. Not a good way to handle this situation.
Its nice to be nice xx but I have to say if I’m making my dream video game my staff will do as I tell them to do to make my vision a reality, and there will be a war if not! We are making a timeless piece of art that will last forever xxx
I dunno... he looks like a bit of a wrongun.
Interesting lack of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ here despite there being way less evidence or testimonials compared to other cases such as the Smash pro scene and Warren Ellis. From the sounds of it, he saw which way the winds were blowing and made a hasty retreat from the industry. If he was really an auteur then he would have pushed through for the sake of BGAE2.
Ancel does deny the accusations in his response, although there's obviously a bit of a language barrier so it's not the cleanest reply. Anyway, it all sounds like the usual "he said, she said" stuff. Unless there's a solid amount of evidence behind this, I say innocent until proven guilty.
I'm sick of this trial by public opinion junk anyway, where people's dirty laundry (or fabricated dirty laundry) is aired out for all to see and judge.
the weirdest thing about all of this to me is that he seems to have the same haircut as rayman.
I'm seeing a lot of accusations and very little proof.
@Kalmaro The state of Beyond Good and Evil 2 (or lack of thereof) speaks for itself. I know some great games took ages to make, but it’s not like this wasn’t advertised several times.
@Marxally Well, at least someone related to Ubisoft IS using Rayman...
I will say my and no more. I believe facts not allegations or accusations. We have no proof except a supposedly accusation of misconduct. If this was true why wasn't this taken to court? Why did this person instead go on the internet anonymously to make these accusations. Its cowardice tactic that been adopted by many people unfortunately. It doesn't mean its true, but it does speak volumes about this person. An accusations which should've been reported, but it wasn't. What is even more sad is the people commenting here believing these accusations is ridiculous. Yes people will ruin your life out jealousy, hatred, or attitude. People suck and aren't trustworthy. He has the right to challenge the legitimacy of these accusations. We have 2 sides to the accusation with neither side providing evidence. I will wait for actual facts for my judgment. He is innocent until proven guilty.
Just for this word "allegedly" people are getting killed on the street by a lynch mob in the less "developed" countries.
The Internet equivalent of this is to try and make a person lose his job, family and every opportunity to be happy.
All because of this word.
@nessisonett This isn’t a potentially criminal case and he’s not doing himself any favors with those posts. He does come across as an egotist and BGaE2 is still nowhere to be seen.
Gamers also tend to be a forgetful lot when it comes to “social” faux pas, but tease them a game for years and they will become spiteful. See: Half Life 3 or Metroid Prime 4.
Judging by his work, his games have always been different, more on a “artsy” side of things and it actually says a lot about what kind of person he is. And for that kind of person this kind of behavior isn’t rare. Those people can’t stand criticism AND for a good reason! So unless there was some sexual harassment involved, you can’t really blame the guy for being so strict and uptight about his art.
Sounds exactly like my boss...
@Dezzy He resigned right before the story hit. The reality is probably worse than what we're hearing.
The comments in articles like this one are a shame. Most of them come from a bunch of people with a lot of prejudice attacking someone they don't actually know. What being 'toxic' even means? That your little and childish ego got hurt?
Oh I'm sorry, am I being toxic too?
@MrGawain Well said. We have laws for a reason. No need for twitter mobs, doxxing and cancel culture at all.
The word 'toxic' is being bandied about way too frequently and casually - see also 'racism' 'sexism' etc etc. basically the world has turned into a complete mess of lily-livered, knee-jerk reactions where if even the slightest hint of finger-pointing is alluded to lives are immediately ruined.
@SmaggTheSmug There's a bunch of reason why stuff can get held up. At the end of the day, all we can do is speculate and look at accusations which... doesn't really get us anywhere.
Pulling articles from Kotaku??? Is this the beginning of the end?
I don’t know about this situation in particular but if you’re only quoting one or two employees on a huge team you’re not getting an accurate portrayal. Any workforce involving creatives is gonna have a few (possibly many) frustrated employees who don’t feel like their talents are being “fully utilized” and can be particularly sensitive/emotional/pious when their work and ideas has to be rejected or revised.
@Savino that’s a really odd take.
I find the pursuit of truth a lot more honourable than simply suing someone out of petty revenge because they called you a name.
Yeah, so many judgmental people here. I'm sorry, but we don't know anything about the situation since we're not part of it and therefore can't be sure if anyone's telling the truth or if someone has a hidden agenda of sorts. I'm not willing to diss a guy - who am I to judge?
@Marxally Might want to wait until everything is proven true before you start to feel sickened.
He was a boss he is not meant to be your friend and kill you with kindness. Some days you will hate your boss, some days he will hate you but as long as you are both working towards the same goal and only challenging or questioning direction when appropriate you are both striving for the best. Obviously any inappropriate comments, name calling, sexual conduct and racism are totally unacceptable but in this case it seems to be as a boss he was a bit of a jerk. A non story really.
Well, nobody from us was there and involved, so we should not judge.
A "Source" is also... nothing of worth.
@nessisonett so because some don't automatically believe every accusation and prefer to wait for actual proof instead of word of mouth makes us all sociopaths?
I'm not saying this guy is innocent, I'm just waiting for proof to come out. If the claims are indeed true, then shame on him, if not, move on 🤷🏾♂️.
The NintendoLife comment section. On brand as usual, lol.
@Savino yeah, I get that.
I just think it’s an odd take that you think it’s better that he takes people to court and upsets their lives (a rather ‘toxic’ reaction) rather than he proclaiming that he only wants the truth to be known (which seems a reasonable and simple response?).
I just thinks it’s odd that you think he proves he isn’t abusive by being aggressive.
Been following his career for a long time and very rarely does anyone have a bad thing to say about him. Even Miyamoto-san has had a few people toss some dust his way as he is also known to tear ideas or upend development. Does that make Miyamoto an abusive boss?
I'm not going to put the guy under fire because to be honest we don't know. What is being said is rather vague as there is no history or well-documented cases and just seems like complaints in regards to where Beyond Good and Evil 2's unfocused development. A rocky development has happened before and I think he was just feeling burned out and wanted to change his career to a passion project.
The other accusations at UbiSoft are very believable because they are very and I mean VERY well documented. This seems more like trial by association against Michel Ancel.
Innocent until proven guilty, people. Two wrongs don't make a right, and for the love of all that is holy, do not get your news from Kotaku.
Take into account this guy has been working on games for years. How the work place was handled decades ago isn't how it's managed now. I can only imagine what kind of stress workers and management are under now since the pandemic started.
Beyond Good & Evil 2 was always a mess, a development hell, it's possible he became angry and stressed, and started to redirect his anger at his employees, he became a jerk and it's understandable.
However, if he sexually abused someone, then that's no excuse, verbal abuse can be pardoned, sexual abuse can't be easily pardoned.
He hasn't even been accused of anything that bad though. Just being a bit of an ass.
Allow me to introduce you -
This is Laser, Blaser, Taser... and Michel
Creating a hostile work environment is a real thing and it has a real legal definition and real legal consequences. So does sexual harassment in the work place, racism in work place, etc., all of which of course are completely despicable and obviously unacceptable. But being accused of "toxic leadership" is hollow and meaningless and until some facts or testimony come forth to warrant an alternative conclusion, I'd encourage everyone to exercise some restraint and not be so quick to convict and execute the guy.
Well, if you're going to post a comment about how mean of a person Ancel is, you have to also say the same thing about Miyamoto. He did the same thing: https://www.zeldadungeon.net/wiki/Upending_the_Tea_Table
Imagine working on something for months, sacrificing time away from your family, and then Miyamoto comes in and upends the tea table. (And yes, I'm probably the 100'th person to type "upend" in the comments, and like everyone else, I only use that word when discussing Miyamoto, lol)
One thing about this article is that it leaves out the quote from his instagram post in which he directly responds and gives his own account for the accusations involved, which would be the most fair thing in this situation.
I won't defend Ancel, but I also won't let the accusations affect my opinion of him. They are not for me to act upon.
That sentiment would be all well and good if it weren't so often used to protect abusers by absurdly insisting upon legal thresholds for all judgment...
We are allowed to conclude where there might be fire.
@JimmySpades Here is perfectly Stalinist reasoning. Disgusting.
And the most infuriating part is, people using this "smoky" line of argument only make it HARDER to pursue toxic management types.
The whole reason we have the me too movement and the Twitter "lynch mob" (please tell me who exactly has been lynched) is that victims have endured DECADES of being failed by the system.
@noobish_hat The Spanish Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the Soviet Union, the wrongfully convicted worldwide - they all say hello, bud. And that's been happening not for decades, but centuries. All because of zealots perfectly assured that, in their holy cause, they can do no wrong.
being accused of "toxic leadership" is hollow and meaningless and until some facts or testimony come forth to warrant an alternative conclusion, I'd encourage everyone to exercise some restraint and not be so quick to convict and execute the guy.
@Gamehendge In general I agree, but here's the thing - in an employment situation, with the precarious atmosphere around work since the Great Recession, many anti-social/border psychopathic management types truly have gone unchallenged for a long time. And its not just a problem in this industry. There is much room for solutions between blanket assumptions of guilt, which you can see plainly above, versus a working principle that accusations are baseless.
@COVIDberry I've always been in the camp of record. If this was not a stray employee voice, but many insiders claiming Mr Ancel was a toxic manager I'd be more inclined to say it is truth. But, based on most former staffers who worked for him he was a very pleasant man to work for. But, of course that does not excuse his behavior if that was true and maybe Mr Ancel himself did not like what the industry was turning him into. So he decided to move into another career path.
People are people afterall.
Someone accused somebody of something.
It must be true and I must publicly shame them in front of the world!
In reality I don't think any of us can look at Ubisoft and not see a generally dysfunctional probably toxic environment from top to bottom. Maybe less bad, maybe more bad than other gaming giants, but not a delight regardless. I don't know if the accusations mean Ancel is toxic, or if he's simply a functioning part of a dysfunctional organization at at large. I'm sure bad stuff happens at many levels of a giant corporate machine such as that.
I'm sick and tired of all these accusations of "toxic" work conditions in game studios, which are of course usually laid at the feet of a handful of [straight, white] men, and I think 99% of the claims are utter garbage. Yes, there's often cliques that form in most games companies, and everyone thinks the boss is a douche and so on, as is the case in all companies and indeed all walks of life, but that's not an excuse to make litigious claims left, right and center. Stop being little babies and stop turning every little thing into some personal victim-mentality vendetta and "social" media and "news" media war. It's just getting pathetic as this point. And, because I think most of the accused are actually innocent, it's also very insidious and dangerous and worrying and indeed angering too. No one is safe from the mob.
The heads of Ubisoft are crazy French. lol
“Take few people with rage and jealousy”
Yeah, stop right there, he’s guilty.
"if he was really an auteur"
Dear lightning strike, Michel and I will be waving at you from row 12 tomorrow at 6:12PM during Gilles' match against Shapovalov. You should spot us easily.
@RogerFederer In the stands, eh Roger? Don’t see you playing so it should be a fun watch as Rafa equals your Grand Slam record.
You are so predictable, but then so is Thiem.
@NIN10DOXD I think he might be talking about those specific people - and who knows, maybe they are jealous? Maybe not? The point is that so many people judge by articles without really knowing anything about what really happened... and it happens over and over. I feel bad for anyone ‘accused’ without proof as it just means that as soon as someone says anything about someone, immediately that person is attacked and judged without anyone knowing if it’s true or to what extent it’s true - I’m sure anyone would be very defensive in that situation.
@StormtheFrontier If someone is accused of something publicly and without proof... of course they are going to be defensive.. I think anyone would. Is he right or wrong - who knows.. but judging people based purely on accusations and these kind of responses is exactly the kind of negativity we don’t need in the world... but seem to be seeing more and more of it.
@COVIDberry Be disgusted all you want; I'm not concerned with the opinion of someone who gets offended that victims might be believed.
@impurekind If you honestly believe that 99% of claims are utter garbage, then my days of not taking you seriously are coming to a middle.
A real shame good Ubisoft products are becoming a distant memory, his departure won't make things any better for certain franchises. Sure, toxic behavior is everywhere in the industry, but I'll watch things unfold before pointing at someone. I barely know him outside his work on Rayman games.
Hey @NEStalgia, its not often I so easily agree with your posts
I am absolutely done with "social justice"/outrage posts on this site. All they do is make my Ignore list ever longer.
As for you noobish_whatever, I'm sure you've ignored me also by now - but to everyone else: creating an atmosphere of overheated suspicion and automatic prosecution is how historical disasters START, not how they END. The fact that people - good, bad, indifferent - are not literally being lynched isn't very comforting when you consider where these things go if unchecked. Ah, well. Fanatics always harm their own causes...
@JimmySpades I think that was a compliment.
@Mortenb You still can't do whatever you want. This is victim blaming. You need to control yourself and check yourself at the door at your job. Most people don't care what you do in your personal life, but at work you need to treat people with respect and behave. What Michel did was not okay and never is okay for anyone.
@ivory_soul I've said and done horrible things in every walk of life, through my life. It's not my job nor my place to make judgements about every imperfect human out there. Even in personal relationships that is difficult business, without just making a lot of things worse. What do I know about this situation? Nothing. And in situations where I have infinitely more information, I yet make mistake after mistake, especially when I feel "in the rigth". Life is difficult, and people make mistakes all the time. All personality types have virtues and vices. It is forbearance for imperfection that makes life possible. The opposite of that is that all of the Internet buts in on every single thing, and pick some side and destroy the other.
@HotGoomba I get a feeling you probably had little to no respect "from him" to begin with, but with the shoddy grammar & demeanor... 🤔 Yeah, probably zero. Have to say I'm surprised to see you say you lost "most respect" though, curious as to what merits what little respect you got left.
IF true, IF, then it would be utterly disgraceful behaviour.
@KougerKing Oh no, I did actually still respect him. I mean he made Rayman and Beyond Good and Evil. He wasn't a Nintendo Icon, but he did help make great games. And now, he's just another J.K. Rowling I'm my eyes. One was rude on Social Media (specifically to Homosexuals), and the other verbally attacked Employees.
@Mortenb This still doesn't apply to work values. You clearly have never worked a day in your life or you just don't care how people are treated. I've been a manager and director for a department before and I always said you manage personalities not people. You have to manage each person differently. You get tyrant bosses and managers because they believe one style of managing works for every person. My department was happy for 5 years and we had very little turnover compared to the rest of the company because of that. While, yes, we don't know the entire situation here, Michel was a manager, a boss, and had more responsibility than most people.
I swear people who are just okay with this never worked or are tyrannical bosses or managers themselves. Regardless of what we know, this is still never okay whether Michel is guilty or not. I hate when people are just laissez-faire about these things and look the other way. This is why workplace harassment runs rampant.
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