The 2003-present logo.
|Traded as||Euronext: UBI|
|Key people||Yves Guillemot
(Chairman and CEO)
|Revenue||€1.058 billion (2013)|
|Operating income||€260 million (2010)|
|Net income||€89.8 million (2010)|
Ubisoft Entertainment S.A. (// YOO-bee-soft; Euronext: UBI) is a French global video game publisher and developer, with headquarters in Montreuil, France. The company originating from Carentoir (Morbihan, Brittany) has a worldwide presence with 26 studios in 19 countries and subsidiaries in 26 countries. The name "Ubi" comes from the acronym Union des Bretons Indépendants (Independent Breton Union).
It is currently the third largest independent game publisher in Europe, and the third largest in the United States. The company's largest development studio is Ubisoft Montreal in Canada, which currently employs roughly 2,100 people. Yves Guillemot, a founding brother, is the chairman and CEO. As for 2008–2009 fiscal year, Ubisoft's revenue was €1.058 billion, reaching the 1 billion euro milestone for the first time in its history. Ubisoft has created its own film division called Ubisoft Motion Pictures which will create shows and films based on its games.
The five brothers of the Guillemot family founded Ubisoft as a computer game publisher in March 1986 in France (Brittany). 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, Ubisoft began expanding to other markets, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
In the early 90s, Ubisoft initiated its in-house game development program which led to the 1994 opening of a studio in Montreuil, France, which later became their headquarters. Ubisoft became a publicly traded company in 1996 and continued to expand to offices around the globe, opening locations in Annecy, Shanghai and Montreal.
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, Inc.) to them. The sale included the rights to IPs such as the Myst and Prince of Persia series.
In October 2001, they acquired Gamebusters and moved them to the German Offices.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ubisoft committed itself to online games by getting behind Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, The Matrix Online, and the European and Chinese operation of EverQuest. The publisher established ubi.com as its online division. However, in February 2004, Ubisoft cancelled the online portion of Uru and backed out of the publishing deal on The Matrix Online. Nevertheless, a mere week later, the company announced its acquisition of Wolfpack Studios, developer of Shadowbane.
In July 2006 Ubisoft also bought the Driver franchise from Atari for a sum of €19 million (US$24 million) in cash for the franchise, technology rights, and most assets. Additionally, though Ubisoft is not acquiring the studio outright, the members of Driver developer Reflections Interactive became employees of Ubisoft. As a result, Reflections Interactive was subsequently renamed Ubisoft Reflections.
Ubisoft is also responsible for publishing famous franchises produced by other important studios for some specific platforms, such as Resident Evil 4 for PC, which is a Capcom production, and Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon for PlayStation 2.
On 8 July 2008, Ubisoft made the acquisition of Hybride Technologies, a Montreal-based studio renowned for its expertise in the creation of visual effects for cinema, television and advertising. Created over 15 years ago, Hybride employs 100 team members. The studio's many films include Avatar, 300, Frank Miller's Sin City and the Spy Kids series.
As the fourth largest video game company in the world as of 2009, Ubisoft studios employs the second largest amount of in-house development staff in the world and has several divisions and offices throughout the world. While some were founded by Ubisoft, others have been acquired over time:
- Ubisoft Abu Dhabi, located at media city twofour54 in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This studio opened its doors in December 2011, and it is the first ever gaming development studio in the Middle East that was launched by a multi-millionaire video games publishing company. The studio is also responsible for launching twofour54's gaming academy.
- Ubisoft Annecy – best known for developing the multiplayer for Assassin's Creed series.
- Ubisoft Bulgaria
- Ubisoft Casablanca
- Ubisoft Chengdu, started on 17 September 2007.
- Ubisoft Germany in Düsseldorf, Germany, started in 1995, acquired Gamebusters in October 2001 and merged employees.
- Blue Byte Software in Düsseldorf, Germany, founded in 1988, acquired February 2001.
- Related Designs in Mainz, founded in January 1995, acquired a 30% stake in the company on 11 April 2007.
- Sunflowers Interactive Entertainment Software GmbH in Heusenstamm, Germany, founded in 1993, acquired on 11 April 2007.
- Ubisoft Pune, started in 2008 after acquiring the Pune Gameloft studio in India. Focuses on porting games to the current generation of Consoles and handhelds. In Times Animage 2009 held at Pune it was disclosed by Ubisoft officials that the Pune Studio was developing its own games on DS, Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms.
- Ubisoft Ukraine, started 29 April 2008.
- Ubisoft Massive in Malmö, Sweden, founded as Massive Entertainment in 1997, acquired from Vivendi Games on 10 November 2008.
- Ubisoft Montpellier, acquired Tiwak in 2004 and merged employees. Developer of Rayman Origins, From Dust, and Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn. Michel Ancel is a developer for this division. Current projects include Beyond Good & Evil 2 and ZombiU
- Ubisoft Montreal, started in 1997 as Ubisoft Divertissements Inc., acquired the Canadian division of Microïds on 2 March 2005, eventually merged into this division.
- Nadeo in Issy-les-Moulineaux, Paris, France, founded in 2000. Acquired in 5 October 2009.
- Ubisoft Nagoya, started in September 1996 as "Digital Kids". Acquired by Ubisoft in 2008.
- Ubisoft Paris, made games such as Rayman Raving Rabbids 2, Red Steel, Red Steel 2, and XIII.
- Ubisoft Poland, opened in 2009.
- Ubisoft Quebec, started 1 June 2005, based in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
- Ubisoft Red Storm in Morrisville, North Carolina, USA, founded in 1996 and acquired in August 2000.
- Ubisoft Reflections in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, founded in 1984 as Reflections Interactive and acquired in 26 August 2006, from Atari.
- Ubisoft Romania in Bucharest started in October 1992 and in Craiova from September 2008.
- Ubisoft San Francisco, North American Headquarters
- Ubisoft Shanghai, announced in early 2009 that their new, Shanghai studio would develop the upcoming Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 title, I Am Alive, instead of the originally expected Darkworks.
- Ubisoft Singapore, started on August 2008. Ubisoft cited the Singapore government's demonstrated interest and support for the video game industry, together with other factors such as the quality of Singapore's universities and training institutions, as reasons for opening a studio there. Ubisoft Singapore is focused on developing their own game titles.
- Ubisoft Tokyo, started in 1994.
- Ubisoft Toronto, announced on 6 July 2009, is led by Assassin's Creed producer Jade Raymond. Their first productions will include a new installment of the Splinter Cell series made by staff coming from the series' core team at Ubisoft Montreal.
- Ubisoft Milan, started in early 1998.
- Ubisoft Barcelona, started 1998.
- RedLynx, acquired in November 2011.
- Related Designs, acquired 30% stake in 2007, fully acquired in April 2013.
- Sinister Games, acquired in April 2000, closed in June 2003.
- Wolfpack Studios in Austin, Texas, U.S, founded in 1999 and acquired on 1 March 2004. Closed in 2006.
- Ubisoft Vancouver, started on 3 February 2009 after acquiring Action Pants Inc. Closed in January 2012.
- Ubisoft São Paulo, started on 24 June 2008 and on 20 January 2009 they acquired Southlogic Studios and integrated it into this studio. The studios were closed in late 2010 to focus on games distribution.
- Spartacus: Legends (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)
- The Smurfs 2: The Video Game (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS)
- The Smurfs & Co: Spellbound (Facebook)
- South Park: The Stick of Truth (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows)
- Rayman Legends (Wii U, PlayStation 3, Playstation Vita, Xbox 360)
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Microsoft Windows)
- Watch Dogs (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows)
- Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows)
- Assassin's Creed: Utopia (iOS, Android)
- Nutty Fluffies (iOS, Android)
- Just Dance 2014 (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
- The Crew (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows)
- Trials Fusion (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows)
- Trials Frontier (Mobiles)
- Tom Clancy's The Division (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
- Beyond Good & Evil 2 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U)
- The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot (Microsoft Windows)
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6: Patriots (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows)
- Furious 4 (Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
- QuestMania (Microsoft Windows)
- Underdog (TBA)
- Untitled Assassin's Creed Entry (TBA)
Uplay is a digital distribution, digital rights management, multiplayer and communications service created by Ubisoft.
Ubisoft had, for a time, used the controversial StarForce copy protection technology that installs drivers on a system and is known to cause some hardware problems and compatibility issues with certain operating systems, starting with the game Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, which was not compatible with Windows XP Professional x64 Edition for quite some time, until a patch was released by the makers of StarForce. On 14 April 2006, Ubisoft confirmed that they would stop using StarForce on their games, citing complaints from customers.
In the February 2008 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, Editor-in-Chief Dan "Shoe" Hsu asserted that Ubisoft had ceased to provide all Ubisoft titles to the EGM for any 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."
In January 2010, Ubisoft has announced the Online Services Platform, 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 means that should Ubisoft's servers go down, the game will be unplayable. In February 2010, review versions of Assassin's Creed II and Settlers 7 for 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 games. Ubisoft initially said this was the result of the number of users attempting to access their servers to play, however Ubisoft later claimed that the real cause of the outages were denial-of-service attacks.
The company's use of Aaron Priceman, also known as Mr. Caffeine, as a spokesman at E3 2011 was criticized for its reliance on witty remarks, 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.
In August 2011, Ubisoft released From Dust with DRM protection, contrary to previous statements that the game would not have any DRM related restrictions. Though a promise was made to remove it, after several months the DRM had still not been removed from many if not all copies of the game. Also, the game was widely described as "badly ported" from consoles. Joystiq reports that "paying players will find a capped frame rate, limited resolutions for the windowed mode, no anti-aliasing and plenty of bugs".
In 2008, Ubisoft sued Optical Experts Manufacturing (OEM), a DVD Duplication company for $25 million plus damages for the leak and distribution of the PC version of Assassin's Creed. The lawsuit claims that OEM did not take proper measures to protect its product as stated in its contract with Ubisoft. The complaint also alleges that OEM admitted to all the problems in the complaint.
In April 2012, Ubisoft was sued by the author of the book "Link", John L. Beiswenger for copyright infringement for using the ideas that were used in the Assassin's Creed franchise like allowing the main character, Desmond, to travel back to the past of his ancestors by using the Animus and he also claimed that Ubisoft plagiarized his ideas on Good vs. Evil concept that were in his book that he claimed that were used in the Assassin's Creed games. He wished for $5.25 million in damages and wanted to stop the release of Assassin's Creed III that which is set to be released in October 2012 along with any future games that contain his ideas. On 30 May 2012, Beiswenger dropped the lawsuit. Beiswenger was later quoted as saying he believes "authors should vigorously defend their rights in their creative works", and suggested that Ubisoft's motion to block future lawsuits from Beiswenger hints at their guilt.
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