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Rayman creator Michel Ancel quits game development

Wild and Beyond Good & Evil 2 still in development, Ancel says

Designer Michel Ancel sits in front of a television displaying artwork from Rayman Photo: AFP via Getty Images
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Rayman creator and Beyond Good & Evil game designer Michel Ancel says he’s leaving game development after more than 30 years. But Ancel says his two in-development projects, Wild Sheep Studios’ Wild and Ubisoft’s Beyond Good & Evil 2, will continue and “are going super well.”

Ancel announced his retirement from games on Friday via Instagram, where he said he will focus on a new project at a wildlife sanctuary.

“After more than 30 years, I’ve decided to stop working on video games and fully focus on my second passion: Wild Life!” Ancel said. “My new project takes place in the real world and consists in a wild life open sanctuary dedicated to education, nature lovers and ... wild animals ...

“Many of you might want to know what will happen to Wild and BGE2. No worries, since many months now the teams are autonomous and the projects are going super well. Beautiful things to be seen soon.”

Following Ancel’s announcement, the Beyond Good & Evil 2 development team published an update about the long-in-development game, noting that the game designer hasn’t been “directly involved” in its creation for “some time now.”

Guillaume Brunier, senior producer on Beyond Good & Evil 2 at Ubisoft Montpellier, said in a statement:

For years, Michel imparted his creative vision and helped us remain faithful to BG&E’s incredible universe. His uncompromising passion pushed us to redefine what was possible in crafting an expansive, multicultural, and futuristic science-fiction world. As we move forward, we are all committed to remaining true to this vision.

As Michel noted, he hasn’t been directly involved in BG&E2 for some time now, as the team have been hard at work building on top of the solid creative foundation he helped shape. The team’s collective strength has us well on our way to developing a flagship next-generation action-adventure game. We recently passed an important internal milestone, delivering a build that proves our Space Pirate Fantasy and offers hours of gameplay and an incredible level of freedom in a seamless online sandbox, building upon the promise of our tech demos shown at E3. I’m incredibly proud of the team’s perseverance, dedication to each other and ongoing commitment to developing an amazing game.

Polygon reached out to Wild Sheep Studio, the developer behind Wild, for a statement on Ancel’s departure and an update on the game’s development. The status of Wild, which was announced in 2014 and lists Sony as publisher, is unclear. Wild Sheep has not discussed the PlayStation 4 game publicly in years.

Ancel’s departure from games comes amid months of turmoil at publisher Ubisoft. The French publisher has been the subject of multiple misconduct allegations, which has led to the resignation of Serge Hascoët, formerly the company’s editorial chief; the resignation of Maxime Béland, an editorial vice president at Ubisoft Toronto; the firing of Ashraf Ismail, formerly Ubisoft Montréal’s creative director for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla; and the firing of Tommy Francois, the company’s vice president for editorial and creative services.

In the wake of those dismissals and other controversies, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot issued a public apology in a video statement released in September, saying he’s “fully committed to leading the change at Ubisoft and to ensuring we always uphold and exemplify our core values.”

Ancel worked with Ubisoft for more than 30 years. His earliest titles include 1989’s Intruder and 1990’s Brain Blasters. His most famous creation, the platforming series Rayman, kicked off with 1995’s Rayman.

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