The exodus of talented game developers heading into the indie scene is a promising proposition but also a risky one. Talented developers are tired of being held back by the restrictive conventions of AAA gaming and want to break away to make something more personal. More power to them. The downside is losing your job to start a company that might not even work out in the long haul. If only there was a way to do both…
Well, if you're one of the most wildly talented developers of all time, maybe there is! Perhaps your parent company will let you moonlight as an indie developer while still keeping you within their ranks, much like the new relationship between Rayman and Beyond Good & Evil creator Michel Ancel and longtime employer Ubisoft.
Ancel has opened a new indie studio in Montpellier, France called Wild Sheep Studio, and he and his 13 staffers are currently wrapped up in a new game that they plan on announcing soon.
In regards to his latest venture, Ubisoft issued a statement confirming that Ancel is still working for them at Ubisoft Montpellier, and it heavily implied that he is also still working on the elusive Beyond Good & Evil 2.
"We are fortunate to have some of the industry's finest talents, including Michel Ancel, working with us at our studio," said managing director of Ubisoft's Annecy, Paris and Montpellier studios, Xavier Poix in a statement to Eurogamer.
"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.
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."
Of course, Ubisoft won't officially or specifically say anything about Beyond Good & Evil 2 until it is absolutely sure to be finished, lest it face the wrath of angry fans if something goes horribly wrong. Who knows? Speculate away!
I would be very sad if Ancel were to finally leave Ubisoft without releasing Beyond Good & Evil 2, and now that Rayman is seeing something of a resurgence, I'm willing to bet that Ubisoft doesn't want to let him go so easily either. I hope he got a huge paycheck out of this decision.