How Beyond Good & Evil 2 Died

In the early weeks of November 2003, the gaming company Ubisoft made a decision that would haunt fans for years to come. They released both of their flagship holiday titles in the same week of each other, halting any plans at an even financial split. One was Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, a reboot of an already well established and commercially successful franchise, the heyday of Ubisoft’s catalog during that era. The other? A risky new IP called Beyond Good & Evil.

Although it’s not truly apparent, Beyond Good & Evil quickly became one of the most influential titles to be released during that period. It’s extremely poor sales weren’t a halt for it’s innovation, and variations of it’s mechanics were present in many games to come, including modern Ubisoft franchises like Assassin's Creed. At the end of it’s console generation, it ranked in the top 15 of Nintendo Power and IGN’s best Gamecube games list, and was later praised by GameInformer as the 200th best game of all time.

But as a franchise, it’s been left in the dust. After the announcement of a sequel during a Ubisoft news event back in 2008, the game has limbered in development hell for around seven and a half years. There’s been updates of course, but most of them deal with how the game is delayed yet again, with no real news at stake. In fact, the last official form of screenshots or footage are from that original trailer. Subsequently leaked screenshots and video, show what the game could have been.

One of the few official promo pieces released after the official announcement

So what really happened? Since it’s still somewhat of a shrouded mystery, we’ve gathered every single morsel of info, including rumors and press statements to figure out a multitude of possible answers. What you’ll find is a story of lies and confusion, but worst of all the story of an abandoned game.

Part 1: The Pig (2007–2010)

A near full year after the announcement of the cult classic sequel, Kotaku was tipped a gameplay video of prototype Beyond Good And Evil 2 footage. In the video, Jade does numerous amounts of parkour and climbing to escape from enemies (drawing clear inspirations from games like Mirror’s Edge and Uncharted) and eventually jumps onto the skids, escaping into the sunset. It seemed developed enough to be playable, but not enough to be presentable. Little did anyone know however, that this lead to a more alluding secret under the surface.

According to three Linkedin profiles, the game had been developed from 2007 to 2011, with a vague budget in between 400k to 15 million. (Estimates put the latter as less than the lowest average cost of an AAA game at the time) The game had been shifted between numerous smaller Ubisoft studios and Ubisoft Montpelier, in what was likely a cost-saving measure, and seemed to have gone from aspects of pre-production to production and then back again, to check what worked and what didn’t. Development had seemed to be going smoothly, and although gameplay leaks may have had some worrying, the game was looking to be released soonish.

Then shortly before E3 2010, a huge rumor had become unveiled to the public, off of a French website called Woot Gaming. Many took it with a grain of salt, yet it still entailed bad signs. Reportedly, the creative director of the game (Michel Ancel), had left the project completely in order to pursue more classical games, like something in the vein of his previous endeavors, such as the Rayman series. Ubisoft executives were also looking to cancel the game, with one quote somewhat earlier hinting at this fate. While the article and it’s consequent website have all but vanished, we’re still able to retrieve info from second hand sources who reported on the rumor such as Destructoid and Neogaf. And still, all this time later, the most alarming part manages to be how much the article actually got right.

At E3 2010, Rayman Origins was unveiled to the public. It was a more classical and back to basics approach for Rayman. (2D to be exact) And for the next six years, not another word was heard from Jade and Pey’j again, as the newly formed team focused their efforts on an Origins successor.

When Ancel later revealed he hadn’t left Ubisoft, hopes were soon fueled later, only to be poisoned again.

Part 2: Jade (2011–2013)

As Ubisoft got ready for the next generation of consoles, false senses of hope spread like a wildfire across the BG&E community. It seems the game was placed in an “active design phase” as of 2012 with director Michel Ancel saying that the next time they would announce something, it would be sufficient for a reason. Yet time went on and on, and while Ubisoft went silent, fans scoured. Possible rumors include how the game could have been cross-gen (on both 7th and 8th gen) like the upcoming Watch Dogs, and how it would have been developed by Ubisoft Montpelier since development became shifted. But as the years started to go on without answer, it was clear that Ubisoft was adopting another strategy for their games, that they’ve still been continuing. Ever since E3 2012, Ubisoft has heavily fixated on announcing and releasing online multiplayer only games for different genres, after seeing the success financially. Examples can be seen in Rainbow Six: Siege, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Tom Clancy’s The Division, For Honor, The Crew, and more. Pre-production had just started or had finished on some of these titles, leaving Beyond Good And Evil 2 to fade out of Ubisoft’s radar. To put it simply, Ubisoft didn’t care about the issues of marketing a female protagonist. They didn’t want to go through because it didn’t fit with their growing company strategy.

This news wasn’t heard around the world, and was mostly kept silent. The only proof I’ve managed to come across is an educational video presented by the game’s designer Michel Ancel, about emotions in gaming. Premiered at GameLab Barcelona in 2013, (see the connection?) Michel talked about how players and developers can utilize feeling in interaction. One of his examples was the leaked gameplay footage of Beyond Good And Evil 2.

Ancel refers to it as a project that has been put on hold “several times” and doesn’t mention it by name.

Later, when someone questions him about the video, they refer to the game as “cancelled”.

Ancel does not go against this descriptor.

So has Beyond Good and Evil 2 been quietly killed for years?

Even more recent evidence proves so, but with an intriguing twist.

Part 3: Afterlife (2013–current)

At Gamescom 2014, Sony announced a multitude of surprise titles from esteemed developers, such as Silent Hills, The Tomorrow Children, and more. One of the unexpected announcements included a surprise showing from Michel Ancel, to show not Beyond Good & Evil 2, but a non-Ubisoft project titled WiLD, in which players could control different animals, creatures, and hunters in a open and dynamic world. It was ambitious, and seemed to take ideas and aspects from what Ancel teased of BG&E 2 in interviews. In other words, it was a spiritual successor to what Beyond Good & Evil 2 should have been.

What’s also suspicious is how much Ubisoft and Ancel pretended that Beyond Good & Evil 2 was going to be announced, until WiLD’s announcement. From saying it would be released exclusively on next-gen to then saying it would be announced next year with fake concept-art to boot, it’s achieved nothing but burning out fans with disappointment.

More recently there’s been a small beacon of hope. Shortly after E3, a website called PS4France reported on how they managed to find someone who play-tested Beyond Good & Evil 2. The whole thing is a badly translated mess of info, but there’s one nugget of potential truth. The website claims that the same person who gave them this leak, also knew about the current gen versions of ZombiU. But this doesn’t make much sense. The only person known for leaking that announcement, was Tamaki of Unseen64, DidYouKnowGaming, and more. And how would a French website know of an independent leaker who’s based in England, and vice-versa? As rampantly speculative as it is, it’s the only hope fans have.

Epilogue:

It’s crazy to think that even with all the anticipation, rumors, and hype, Beyond Good & Evil 2 was a victim of circumstance. Not only did it not fit with Ubisoft’s newly founded lineup, but efforts to change this proved to be unfit and unwanted. The constant barrage of lies and misinformation hasn’t saved things either, and our only hope now is that Ubisoft really tells the truth, or faces the consequences.

For more analysis articles and features like this one, please check out The Cube on Medium.com, or our twitter account @TheCubeMedium

Info was sourced from Linkedin, VG247, Eurogamer, Giant Bomb, Xbox Ygen, X Factor Tech, Gameranx, ClevverGames (RIP) , Kotaku, IGN, Gamerant, Neogaf, GameInformer, Destructoid, PS4France, Unseen64, Gamona, GameLab Barcelona, Engadget/Joystiq, BrutalGamer, OutsideXbox, The Escapist, Siliconera, and BGEMyth.net

(For more information on subsequent research and sources, please read below)

Sources (Listed in order of Appearance):

Linkedin:

1.https://www.linkedin.com/in/cyrilerbin

2.https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthieu-pierrot-07aba218

3.https://fr.linkedin.com/in/greg-hermittant-52b8a910

Media (Photos and Video):

  1. Chester, Nick. “Ubidays 08: Screens from New Beyond Good & Evil Suitable for Wallpaper, Wanking.” Destructoid. Modern Method, 5 May 2008. Web. 03 Feb. 2016. <http://www.destructoid.com/ubidays-08-screens-from-new-beyond-good-evil-suitable-for-wallpaper-wanking-88041.phtml>.

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsfs4Kvsr-U (Leaked Gameplay)

3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkCXE1l5MVI (Announce Trailer)

4. http://www.bgemyth.net/visionneuse.php?code=g_bge2_exclu_5 (Gameplay photo)

5. http://brutalgamer.com/2012/05/20/rumor-beyond-good-evil-2-screenshots-leaked/beyond-good-evil-2-rumor-screens-slider/ (Gameplay photo(s) )

6.http://images.eurogamer.net/2012/articles//a/1/4/8/1/2/5/2/DZ5Q0.jpg.jpg/EG11/resize/600x-1/quality/80/format/jpg (City photo)

7. Rene, Andrea. “Beyond Good & Evil 2 Concept Art LEAKED.” YouTube. YouTube, 23 Nov. 2011. Web. 03 Feb. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96tBDJU7nSQ>. (Details)

Sources Used in Part 1:

1. Fahey, Mike. “Is This New Beyond Good & Evil 2 Footage?” Kotaku. Gawker Media, 8 May 2009. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://kotaku.com/5246177/is-this-new-beyond-good--evil-2-footage>.

2. Tito, Greg. “Tudy Claims Average Game Budget Is $23 Million.” The Escapist. Defy Media, 12 Jan. 2010. Web. 9 Feb. 2016. <http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/97413-Study-Claims-Average-Game-Budget-Is-23-Million>.

3. Nicholson, Brad. “Beyond Good & Evil 2 Development Troubled?” Giant Bomb. CBS Interactive Inc., 28 May 2010. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://www.giantbomb.com/articles/beyond-good-evil-2-development-troubled/1100-2037/>.

4. Haas, Pete. “Beyond Good And Evil 2 Might Not Happen | CINEMABLEND.”Beyond Good And Evil 2 Might Not Happen. Cinema Blend LLC, 23 July 2009. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://www.cinemablend.com/games/Beyond-Good-And-Evil-2-Might-Not-Happen-18807.html>.

5. Ishaan. “See The Rayman Origins Announcement Trailer — Siliconera.”Siliconera. Curse Entertainment, 17 June 2010. Web. 11 Feb. 2016. <http://www.siliconera.com/2010/06/17/see-the-rayman-origins-announcement-trailer/>.

6. Devore, Jordan. “Ubisoft Confirms Rayman Legends, Michel Ancel Is Involved.” Destructoid. Modern Method, 27 Apr. 2012. Web. 11 Feb. 2016. <http://www.destructoid.com/ubisoft-confirms-rayman-legends-michel-ancel-is-involved-226620.phtml>.

7. https://vimeo.com/70242565 (GameLab Barcelona vid)

Sources Used in Part 2:

  1. Jager, Sebastian. “Beyond Good & Evil 2: Ubisoft Bestätigt: “Es Kommt””Gamona.de. Webguidez Entertainment GmbH, 26 Feb. 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2016. <http://www.gamona.de/games/beyond-good-evil-2,ubisoft-bestaetigt-es-kommt:news,2229618.html>.
  2. Nunnely, Stephany. “Ubisoft Montpellier Has a New Multiplatform Title in the Works According to CV.” VG247 Ubisoft Montpellier Has a New Multiplatform Title in the Works According to CV Comments. VG247, 2 Mar. 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2016. <https://www.vg247.com/2013/03/02/ubisoft-montpellier-has-a-new-multiplatform-title-in-the-works-according-to-cv/>
  3. Daly, Stephen. “Beyond Good & Evil 2: ‘Possible but Painful’ on Current Consoles.” Gameranx. Gameranx, 02 July 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2016. <http://www.gameranx.com/updates/id/15769/article/beyond-good-evil-2-possible-but-painful-on-current-consoles/>.
  4. Caoli, Eric. “Ubisoft’s Online Strategy Pays off with Rising Sales.” Gamasutra Article. UBM, 19 July 2012. Web. 16 Feb. 2016. <http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/174439/Ubisofts_online_strategy_pays_off_with_rising_sales.php>.

Sources Used in Part 3:

  1. Dutton, Fred. “All the PlayStation Announcements from Gamescom 2014.”PlayStationBlogEurope RSS. SCE, 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2016. <http://blog.eu.playstation.com/2014/08/12/playstation-announcements-gamescom-2014/>.
  2. Haas, Pete. “Beyond Good And Evil 2 Will Have Massive Open-World | CINEMABLEND.” Beyond Good And Evil 2 Will Have Massive Open-World. Cinema Blend LLC, 17 July 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2016. <http://www.cinemablend.com/games/Beyond-Good-Evil-2-Have-Massive-Open-World-57569.html>.
  3. Phillips, Tom. “Michel Ancel Outlines Vision for Next-gen Beyond Good & Evil 2.” Eurogamer.net. Dx.net, 17 July 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2016. <http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-07-15-michel-ancel-outlines-vision-for-next-gen-beyond-good-and-evil-2>.
  4. Reeves, Ben. “[Update] Ubisoft Teases Fans About Beyond Good And Evil 2 Development.” Www.GameInformer.com. Gamestop Network, 14 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2016. <http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2014/04/14/ubisoft-teases-fans-with-beyond-good-and-evil-2-character-design.aspx>.
  5. Val. “Beyond Good & Evil 2 Is: Our Exclusive Info!” Google Traduction. PS4France.com, 26 June 2015. Web. 17 Feb. 2016. <https://translate.google.fr/translate?sl=fr&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=fr&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ps4france.com%2Fbeyond-good-evil-2-existe-nos-infos-exclusives-98855%2F&edit-text=>.
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