Numerous staff have taken extended leave recently, and some never returned.
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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 (opens in new tab), 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.
I’ve reached out to Ubisoft Montpellier to ask about these reports, and I’ll update this piece if I hear back.
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 (opens in new tab) for longest development time, the project picked up Sarah Arellano as its new lead writer (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), 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.