Chase your bliss, they always say. It is never too late to have a career change and visionary Ubisoft stalwart Michel Ancel is proving just that by quitting the video game industry to work at a wildlife sanctuary.
Announced via an Instagram post, featuring a very crafty critter, Ancel said: “Today is very special for me. After more than 30 years, I’ve decided to stop working on video games and fully focus on my second passion : Wild Life !
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.”
Ancel first started work with Ubisoft (then Ubi Soft) on the 1989 Atari ST release Intruder. He worked on Brain Blasters and Pick ‘n Pile before creating his first major IP: Rayman on the PlayStation, a beautifully designed and inventive 2D platformer in an era overwhelmed by the newly emerging 3D gaming scene. That series would go on spawn four main sequels and the Raving Rabbids spin-off franchise (which went on to crossover with MARIO, unbelievably).
But perhaps his most successful creation as an artist was Beyond Good & Evil on the PS2, Xbox, PC, and Gamecube. While Beyond Good & Evil was not a major sales hit, it was a critically acclaimed and multiple award-winning release and became something of a cult classic and only grew in esteem over time. Some 14 years later, a sequel was finally announced with Ancel returning as director.
That, however, seems to be no longer the case.
He assured fans that his two ongoing projects (Wild, and the aforementioned Beyond Good & Evil 2) would go on without him by saying that for “many months now the teams are autonomous and the projects are going super well. Beautiful things to be seen soon.”
Ubisoft confirmed this in a news release, stating that BG&E2 was progressing well and that Ancel had not actually worked on the title in some time, stating: “Michel imparted his creative vision and helped us remain faithful to BG&E’s incredible universe. […] 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.“
Ancel’s vision and artistry will certainly be missed but we hope that Beyond Good & Evil 2 proves to be a worthy swan song for the prolific and influential game designer, and we wish him all the best in his dedicated pursuits as a wildlife conservationist.