Ex-Video Game Designer Michel Ancel Denies Accusations of Toxic Leadership

Michel Ancel has called French newspaper Libération 'fake news' after he denies the accusations of his toxic and abusive leadership tactics released by the news source. This comes after a string of investigations by Libération and their crucial findings of sexual harassment at Ubisoft.

Ex-Video Game Designer Michel Ancel Denies Accusations of Toxic Leadership cover
Flashback to a few days ago. Michel Ancel, the creator of Rayman and Ubisoft’s giant Beyond Good and Evil, announces his bittersweet retirement from the gaming industry to focus on his next passion: wildlife conservation. The news comes with grievances from fans of the series, wondering what will happen to the long-awaited prequel Beyond Good and Evil 2 without Ancel’s keen eye. But it’s still good news. A man has decided to move onto different and blossoming ventures with a lifetime of golden content left as a legacy. 

Then, the French newspaper Libération posted their report entitled “Investigating the Dark Side of the Giant Beyond Good and Evil 2“. A few hours later, Michel Ancel denies all of the accusations in a post on Instagram. 

The Accusations Brought Against Ancel

This report detailed a flurry of accusations against prior industry star Ancel, ranging from unfocused attention to harsh, manipulative criticisms. Libération also revealed that Ancel was under investigation at the time of his retirement, confirmed by Ancel himself in an interview with reporters. Thomas Bidaux, in his translations of the report, details Ancel’s leadership was so bad to have caused staff to go on sick leave. After working for years on the small details of Beyond Good and Evil 2, employees report that Ancel would arbitrarily throw out work and ideas he had previously praised, calling the work useless and ignoring the employee for months after a meeting. 

This comes after a long thread of accusations against Ubisoft. The same newspaper was behind opening up the investigations into Ubisoft’s toxic work atmosphere all the way back in July. Libération’s report on Ubisoft (helpfully translated, because – you know –  not bilingual) revealed over 20 witness testimonies that accused multiple top-ranking members of sexual harassment, homophobia, racism, and creating a chauvinistic work atmosphere. 

The report led to Yves Guillemot, co-founder of Ubisoft, to publicly denounce the toxic culture and sexist reputation Ubisoft was garnering. Multiple members of the accused, such as chief creative officer and second-in-command Serge Hascoët, stepped down from their roles whilst others were placed on administrative leave.

In an Instagram posted by Ancel himself, he denies the accusations made against him and calls Libération “fake news”. Ancel denies that he ever even took on a leadership role, claiming that he actually argued for redesigns to not take place. 

View this post on Instagram

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

Michel Ancel’s Denials are Yves Guillemot’s Problem

Oh, dear. This is yet another kick in the teeth for Ubisoft and leaves the fate of upcoming projects in the air. But at the centre of all of these accusals and investigations is one man: Guillemot. 

Since Libération’s first report and the consequential onslaught of accusations, Guillemot has been left to pick up the pieces. Lest we forget, however, that the investigations were not mentioned before gaming showcases, and there have been numerate instances where Guillemot appears to be ‘sliding all of this under the rug’, as it were. 

Guillemot reportedly has had a close relationship with many of the accused, which is no different with Ancel. A witness cited in Libération’s report noted how Guillemot determined Ancel’s position “non-negotiable” even after the alleged years of complaints, staff taking sick leave, and rises in depression and stress from the team.

As the accusations continue to appear, we must look toward the man at the centre of it all. The man who was quoted (see video below) explaining how he is “determined to do everything in his power to ensure that everyone at Ubisoft feels welcomed, respected, and safe”. The legitimacy of that claim must be addressed when Guillemot’s closest circles consist of people who appear to be against that mantra. 

A Message From Our CEO Yves Guillemot | Ubisoft [NA]

As Michel Ancel denies these accusations set against him, we want to know what you think? How do you think this will affect Ubisoft in the future? Let us know your thoughts down below!

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