Michel Ancel makes case for creativity over profit at Ubisoft

Legendary game creator Michel Ancel spoke out in defence of Ubisoft’s philosophy and track record last week. The comments were related to the development of the long-awaited Beyond Good & Evil 2 but could easily be seen as a plea to shareholders in the ongoing Vivendi-Ubisoft tussle for control of the company.

They want these kinds of games to exist,” Ancel said toKotakuabout Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot and chief creative officer Serge Hascoet. When they wake up in the morning they don’t want to make money – they’ve got money for ten lives if they want to stop. It’s not a question of power or money now. What reason has this company to live: Is it to beat competitors? No, [Ubisoft’s] already in the top three. It’s being able to create things that have never been created before. [Guillemot and Hascoet] are the ones that want to make this happen. They ask the creatives ‘You want to do it? We can do it.’”

Shareholders are usually swayed by more commercially-centred rhetoric than this, but Ancel is making a strong point about creativity being at the core of a successful games company. If the creative talents, such as Ancel, are behind the management then that’s a very healthy sign.

The company is in good health too. Ubisoft has proved itself to be highly-profitable, with profits up 12% in the year ending March 2016. "We ended fiscal 2015-16 on a very positive note, having effectively executed our plan: the performances delivered by The Division and Far Cry Primal exceeded our expectations, we continued our major come-back in the multiplayer segment and we saw a significant increase in player engagement levels for our games." Said Guillemot at the time.

"Since our initial public offering 20 years ago, we have built one of the world’s leading players in the entertainment industry and have created significant value for our shareholders, with a 14-fold increase in the Company’s share price."

Ancel further said that Beyond Good & Evil 2 had yet to be more concrete” before he can reveal more about the game. He said that Ubisoft has been working on Beyond Good & Evil 2 since the launch of Rayman Legends. The long-awaited sequel was first announced in 2008 but we had to wait until last October to have a confirmation that it was still happening. Now Ancel has told Kotaku that Beyond Good & Evil 2 represents a very serious development for Ubisoft.”

It’s crazy and difficult to explain to people how technical making a game is,” he said. Now it’s not anymore about polygons and things like that, it’s about millions of behavioural AIs, systems, and giant spaceships crashing on big planets." Ancel also recently explained why Beyond Good & Evil 2 has taken so long.

The game doesn’t have a release date yet, like the Vivendi-Ubisoft issue, it’s an open-ended affair.

Additional reporting by Marie Dealessandri.

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