Ubisoft's logo since May 2017
|Ubi Soft Entertainment Software (1986–2003)|
|Traded as||Euronext: UBI
CAC Mid 60 Component
|Industry||Video game industry|
|Founded||12 March 1986Carentoir, Francein|
|Brands||See List of Ubisoft games|
|Revenue||€2,984.786 million (2016)|
|€561.8 million (2016)|
Number of employees
|Divisions||Ubisoft Motion Pictures|
|Subsidiaries||See List of Ubisoft studios|
Ubisoft Entertainment SA (formerly Ubi Soft Entertainment Software) is a French video game publisher, headquartered in Rennes, France. It is known for publishing games for several acclaimed video game franchises including Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Just Dance, Prince of Persia, Rayman, and Tom Clancy's. It is the fourth largest publicly-traded game company in the Americas and Europe after Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, and Take-Two Interactive in terms of revenue and market capitalization.
In March 1986, five brothers of the Guillemot family founded Ubi Soft in Carentoir, a small village located in the Morbihan department of the Brittany region in France. Yves Guillemot soon made deals with Electronic Arts, Sierra On-Line, and MicroProse to distribute their games in France. By the end of the decade, Ubi Soft began expanding to other markets, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. They entered the video game distribution and wholesale markets, and by 1993 they had become the largest distributor of video games in France. In the early 1990s, Ubi Soft initiated its in-house game development program, which led to the 1994 opening of a studio in Montreuil, France. It later became their administrative and commercial head office, even as the company continues to register its headquarters in Rennes. Ubi Soft became a publicly traded company in 1996 and continued its expansion around the globe, opening locations in Annecy (1996), Shanghai (1996), Montreal (1997), and Milan (1998).
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ubi Soft committed itself to online games by supporting Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, The Matrix Online, and the European and Chinese operation of EverQuest. The publisher established an online division. However, in February 2004, Ubisoft cancelled the online portion of Uru and backed out of the publishing deal on The Matrix Online. The company is noted for its teams of female game developers/testers, known as the Frag Dolls.
In March 2001, Gores Technology Group sold The Learning Company's entertainment division (which includes games originally published by Brøderbund, Mattel, Mindscape and Strategic Simulations) to them. The sale included the rights to intellectual properties such as the Myst and Prince of Persia series. In July 2006, Ubisoft bought the Driver franchise from Atari for a sum of €19 million in cash for the franchise, technology rights, and most assets. In July 2008, Ubisoft made the acquisition of Hybride Technologies, a Piedmont-based studio renowned for its expertise in the creation of visual effects for cinema, television and advertising. In November 2008, Ubisoft acquired Massive Entertainment from Activision. In January 2013, Ubisoft acquired South Park: The Stick of Truth from THQ for $3.265 million.
In September 2003, Ubi Soft announced that that they would change their name to simply Ubisoft, and introduced a new logo known as "the Swirl", that would be left unchanged until 2017.
Ubisoft announced plans in 2013 to invest $373 million into its Quebec operations over seven years, a move that will generate 500 additional jobs in the province. The publisher is investing in the expansion of its motion capture technologies, and consolidating its online games operations and infrastructure in Montreal. The significant investment is expected to generate 500 jobs in Quebec over a seven-year period. By 2020, the company will employ more than 3,500 staff at its studios in Montreal and Quebec City.
In March 2015, the company set up a Consumer Relationship Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne. The centre is intended to integrate consumer support teams and community managers. Consumer Support and Community Management teams at the CRC are operational seven days a week.
In May 2017, Ubisoft announced that they had changed their logo to a simplistic, minimalistic version of the former representation.
Since around 2015, the French mass media company Vivendi has been seeking to expand its media properties through acquisitions and other business deals. In addition to advertising firm Havas, Ubisoft was one of the first target properties identified by Vivendi, which as of September 2017 has an estimated valuation of $6.4 billion. Vivendi, in two separate actions during October 2015, bought shares in Ubisoft stock, giving them a 10.4% stake in Ubisoft, an action that Yves Guillemot considered "unwelcome" and feared a hostile takeover. In a presentation during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2016, Yves Guillemot stressed the importance that Ubisoft remain an independent company to maintain its creative freedom.
Vivendi also acquired stake in mobile game publisher Gameloft, also owned by the Guillemots, at the same time it started acquiring Ubisoft shares. In the following February, Vivendi acquired €500 million worth of shares in Gameloft, gaining more than 30% of the shares and requiring the company under French law to make a public tender offer; this action enabled Vivendi to complete the hostile takeover of Gameloft by June 2016. Following Vivendi's actions with Gameloft in February 2016, the Guillemots asked for more Canadian investors in the following February to fend off a similar Vivendi takeover; by this point, Vivendi had increased their share in Ubisoft to 15%, exceeding the estimated 9% that the Guillemots owned. By mid-June 2016, Vivendi had increased its shares to 20.1%, but denied it was in the process of a takeover.
By the time of Ubisoft's annual board meeting in September 2016, Vivendi has gained 23% of the shares, while Guillemots were able to increase their voting share to 20%. A request was made at the board meeting to place Vivendi representatives on Ubisoft's board, given the size of their share holdings. The Guillemots argued strongly against this, reiterating that Vivendi should be seen as a competitor, and succeeded in swaying other voting members to deny any board seats to Vivendi.
Vivendi continued to buy shares in Ubisoft, approaching the 30% mark that could trigger a hostile takeover; as of December 2016, Vivendi held a 27.15% stake in Ubisoft. Reuters reported in April 2017 that Vivendi's takeover of Ubisoft would likely happen that year, and Bloomberg Businessweek observed that some of Vivendi's shares would reach the two-year holding mark, which would grant them double voting power, and would likely meet or exceed the 30% threshold. The Guillemot family has since raised their stake in Ubisoft; as of June 2017, the family now held 13.6 percent of Ubisoft's share capital, and 20.02 percent of the company's voting rights. In October 2017, Ubisoft announced it reached a deal with an "investment services provider" to help them purchase back 4 million shares by the end of the year, preventing others, specifically Vivendi, from buying these.
Besides publishing their own games, Ubisoft is also publishing famous franchises produced by other important studios for some specific platforms.
Uplay is a digital distribution, digital rights management, multiplayer and communications service for PC created by Ubisoft.
Ubisoft Club is a reward program. Members earn rewards by completing certain actions while playing games published by Ubisoft. Completing an action gives you a certain amount of Units, which members can use to unlock those rewards or to get a discount on games from the Uplay Store.
This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutral point of view of the subject. (December 2016)
Ubisoft had, for a time, used the controversial StarForce copy protection technology that installs drivers on a system and is known to cause hardware and compatibility issues with certain operating systems. On 14 April 2006, Ubisoft confirmed that they would stop using StarForce on their games, citing complaints from customers.
In August 2008, Ubisoft was criticized by an antiwar group for its role as a developer of propaganda and recruitment tools for the U.S. Department of Defense.
In January 2010, Ubisoft announced the online services platform Uplay, which forces customers to not only authenticate on the first game launch, but to remain online continually while playing, with the game even pausing if network connection is lost. This makes it impossible to play the game offline, to resell it, and meaning that, should Ubisoft's servers go down, the game will be unplayable. In 2010, review versions of Assassin's Creed II and Settlers 7 for the PC contained this new DRM scheme, confirming that it is already in use, and that instead of pausing the game, it would discard all progress since the last checkpoint or save game. However, subsequent patches for Assassin's Creed II allow the player to continue playing once their connection has been restored without lost progress.
In March 2010, outages to the Ubisoft DRM servers were reported, causing about 5% of legitimate buyers to be unable to play Assassin's Creed II and Silent Hunter 5. Ubisoft initially announced this was the result of the number of users attempting to access their servers to play, but later claimed that the real cause of the outages were denial-of-service attacks. In August 2011, Ubisoft released From Dust with DRM protection, contrary to previous statements that the game would not have any DRM related restrictions. After several months, the DRM had still not been removed from copies of the game.
In the February 2008 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, editor-in-chief Dan "EGMShoe" Hsu asserted that Ubisoft had ceased to provide Ubisoft titles to EGM for coverage purposes as a result of prior critical previews and negative reviews. Yves Guillemot, the CEO of Ubisoft, was quoted in the company's third-quarter 2008–09 sales report as saying "as some of our games did not meet the required quality levels to achieve their full potential, they need more sales promotions than anticipated." The company's use of Aaron Priceman, also known as Mr. Caffeine by the internet, as a spokesman at E3 2011 was criticized for his reliance on popular internet references, inability to pronounce Tom Clancy (he pronounced it "Tom Culancy"), sexual innuendos and imitations of video game sound effects with little to no response from the audience.
On 2 July 2013, Ubisoft announced a major breach in its network resulting in the potential exposure of up to 58 million accounts including usernames, email address and encrypted passwords. Although the firm denied any credit/debit card information could have been compromised, it issued directives to all registered users to change their account passwords and also recommended updating passwords on any other website or service where a same or similar password had been used. All the users who registered were emailed by the Ubisoft company about the breach and a password change request. Ubisoft promised to keep the information safe.
After revealing Assassin's Creed Unity at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014, Ubisoft came in for criticism from the gaming community shortly after revealing that the game would not support female characters in co-op gameplay. The criticism was inflamed after they explained the absence of a female co-op or playable character in Far Cry 4: according to Ubisoft Montreal, they were close to making it possible when the decision was taken that they didn't have the right animations for a female character. Among the responses were comments from developers that the explanations given were not valid. Among them were the fact that the protagonists of Assassin's Creed III and its spin-off game Liberation shared a large amount of movement animations. There were also statements that characters in video games tended to move in a similar fashion regardless of gender. An animation director for Assassin's Creed III also said that the stated reasons of workload and animation replacement didn't hold up, saying that it would be "a day or two's work" to create a female character model.
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