Logo in use since 2004
|Ubi Soft Entertainment Software (1986–2003)|
|Traded as||Euronext: UBI|
|Founded||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 until 2003, commonly referred to as Ubisoft) is a French multinational video game developer and publisher, headquartered in Rennes, France. It is known for developing games for several acclaimed video game franchises including Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, Just Dance, Rainbow Six, Prince of Persia, Rayman, Watch Dogs and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell.
Ubisoft claims to be the third largest independent publisher of video games worldwide (after Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts). Ubisoft worldwide presence includes 29 studios in 19 countries. The company has subsidiaries in 26 countries. Ubisoft's largest development studio is Ubisoft Montreal in Canada, which employs about 2,100 people.
In Ubisoft's 2008–2009 fiscal year, the company's revenue was €1.256 billion, reaching the €1 billion milestone for the first time in the company's history. Ubisoft created its own film division, called Ubisoft Motion Pictures, which creates shows and films based on the company's games.
In March 1986, five brothers of the Guillemot family founded the video game publisher, Ubisoft, 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, Ubisoft 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, Ubisoft 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. Ubisoft became a publicly traded company in 1996 and continued its expansion around the globe, opening locations in Annecy, Shanghai, Milan and Montreal.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ubisoft 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, Inc.) 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 Montreal-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 December 2004, rival gaming corporation Electronic Arts purchased a 19.9% stake in the firm, an action Ubisoft referred to as "hostile" on EA's part.
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 October 2015, mass media company Vivendi bought a 6% stake in Ubisoft. In February 2016, Ubisoft's Yves Guillemot and his brother asked for more Canadian investors, to help prevent a hostile takeover by Vivendi. Earlier in the month, a hostile bid worth €500 million on Gameloft, by Vivendi's chairman Vincent Bolloré raised their stake in Ubisoft to 15%. As of July 2016, Vivendi has increased their holds to 22.8% stake in Ubisoft.
As the world's third largest independent video game company, Ubisoft studios employs the second largest amount of in-house development staff in the world and has several divisions and offices across the globe. While some were founded by Ubisoft, others have been acquired over time:
- Blue Byte in Düsseldorf, Germany — Acquired in 2001
- Future Games of London in London, United Kingdom — Acquired in 2013
- Hybride Technologies in Montreal, Canada
- Ivory Tower in Lyon, France — Acquired in 2015
- Massive Entertainment in Malmö, Sweden — Acquired in 2008
- Nadeo in Paris, France — Acquired in 2009
- Owlient in Paris, France — Acquired in 2011
- Red Storm Entertainment in Cary, North Carolina, United States — Acquired in 2000
- RedLynx in Helsinki, Finland — Acquired in 2011
- Reflections Interactive in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom — Acquired in 2006
- Ubisoft Abu Dhabi in twofour54, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — Opened in 2011
- Ubisoft Annecy in Annecy, France — Opened in 1996
- Ubisoft Barcelona in Sant Cugat del Vallès, Spain — Opened in 1998
- Ubisoft Bucharest in Bucharest, Romania — Opened in 1992
- Ubisoft Chengdu in Chengdu, China — Opened in 2008
- Ubisoft Halifax in Halifax, Canada — Acquired in 2015
- Ubisoft Kiev in Kiev, Ukraine — Opened in 2008
- Ubisoft Milan in Milan, Italy — Opened in 1998
- Ubisoft Montpellier in Montpellier, France — Opened in 1994
- Ubisoft Montreal in Montreal, Canada — Opened in 1997
- Ubisoft Osaka in Osaka, Japan — Acquired in 2008
- Ubisoft Paris in Paris, France — Opened in 1992
- Ubisoft Philippines in Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines — Opened in 2016.
- Ubisoft Pune in Pune, India — Acquired in 2008
- Ubisoft Quebec in Quebec, Canada — Opened in 2005
- Ubisoft San Francisco in San Francisco, California, United States — Opened in 2009
- Ubisoft Shanghai in Shanghai, China — Opened in 1996
- Ubisoft Singapore — Opened in 2008
- Ubisoft Sofia in Sofia, Bulgaria — Opened in 2006
- Ubisoft Toronto in Toronto, Canada — Opened in 2009
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- Sinister Games in Cary, North Carolina, United States — Acquired in 2000, closed in 2003.
- Quazal in Montreal, Canada — Acquired in 2010.
- Sunflowers Interactive in Heusenstamm, Germany, founded in 1993, acquired on 11 April 2007.
- THQ Montreal in Montreal, Canada — Acquired in 2013.
- Ubisoft Casablanca in Casablanca, Morocco — Opened in 1998, closed in 2016.
- Ubisoft São Paulo in São Paulo, Brazil — Opened in 2008, closed in 2010.
- Ubisoft Vancouver in Vancouver, Canada — Acquired in 2009, closed in 2012.
- Ubisoft Zurich in Zurich, Switzerland — Opened in 2011, closed in 2013.
- Wolfpack Studios in Austin, Texas, United States — Acquired in 2004, closed in 2006.
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 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 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 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.
- 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, who alleged a copyright infringement for using his ideas in the Assassin's Creed franchise and demanding $5.25 million in damages and wanted to stop the release of Assassin's Creed III that was set to be released in October 2012 along with any future games that allegedly 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.
- In December 2014, Ubisoft offered a free game from their catalog of recently released titles to compensate the season pass owners of Assassin's Creed Unity due to its buggy launch. The terms offered with the free game revoked the user's right to sue Ubisoft for releasing an unfinished product.
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