Staff at Ubisoft's Beyond Good and Evil 2 studio are reportedly at breaking point

A young woman flanked by imposing armoured soldiers from Beyond Good and Evil 2.
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Update: When contacted for comment, a Ubisoft spokesperson told me that "The health and wellness of our teams is an ongoing priority. Given the length of the development cycle with Beyond Good & Evil, the Montpellier development team is undergoing well-being assessments through a third-party for preventative measures and to evaluate where additional support may be needed".

Original story: Since its first trailer in 2008, Beyond Good and Evil 2 hasn't been able to catch a break. That doesn't look like it's going to let up anytime soon: Reports suggest that Ubisoft Montpellier, the studio behind the game, is under investigation by its local government for an "unprecedented" amount of burnout and sick leave among staff, and it's lost its managing director, too.

The news comes via three anonymous sources spoken to by Kotaku, who said that the studio faced an investigation by the Inspection du Travail (France's Labour Inspection body) after a year in which numerous staff—including several lead devs—took extended absences from the company due to sickness and stress, some of them eventually leaving altogether. The source said that a third-party has now been given the task of interviewing Ubisoft Montpellier employees to assess their physical and mental health.

BG&E2 isn't the only game that Ubisoft Montpellier has worked on in the last few years, with the studio being credited on a few mobile games as well as Ghost Recon: Breakpoint and Wildlands. Beyond Good and Evil 2 is probably its most notable ongoing project, though, and it's undergone multiple shakeups recently. In August last year, around the same time it beat Duke Nukem Forever's record for longest development time, the project picked up Sarah Arellano as its new lead writer. And now staff have reportedly been told that managing director Guillaume Carmona won't be returning to Ubisoft after a long period of absence that began at the start of this year. The game is also said to have lost its creative director and game director in the most recent shake-up.

Whatever the game is at this point, it's probably not the thing that was showcased (with a surprise guest appearance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, for some reason) at E3 2018, and it's certainly not what anyone had in mind all the way back in 2008.

Beyond Good and Evil 2 is a game that we almost can't believe is still in active development after all this time, and it looks like that's not set to change in the near future. I adored the first Beyond Good and Evil, and have maintained a foolish, flickering hope for its sequel ever since we first glimpsed Jade meditating on the hood of that car 15 years ago, but no game is worth this anguish. If BG&E2 is pushing its staff to the point that it damages their health after 15 years of development, maybe it's best to just let the project go.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.