Ubisoft is one of the largest game developers in the business, ranking third in among independents, only behind Electronic Arts and Activision. And it's easy to see why they would be so large considering that they are behind several pivotal and beloved franchises like: Assassin's Creed, Ghost Recon, Watch Dogs, Far Cry, Splinter Cell & Rainbow Six. Yet being one of the largest or most popular companies doesn't mean that there isn't a war for control just over the horizon.
Ubi's Directors Fear Stockholder Vivendi Will Force Control to Change Hands
The board of Directors at Ubisoft have been bracing for a fight with the assumption that Vivendi (who currently holds a 23% of the company) would push for seats on the board at the Annual General Meeting. But oddly enough Vivendi did not and that leads many insiders to believe that they [Vivendi] are preparing for an eminent hostile takeover to earn a majority vote in the direction that Ubisoft takes.
The rumors of a takeover in the near future of Ubisoft are not a single action, rather they are a part of a much larger story, and the context is immeasurable when you really think about it. Yet, regardless of some seeing the significance of Vivendi's actions, Ubisoft has begun taking steps towards staving off the would-be attackers. The brother's Yves and Gerard Guillemot, CEOs of gaming and motion pictures respectively held their annual general meeting were able to re-affirm their place as a leadership voice in the company, which is a huge step forward for Ubisoft retaining their independent status.
Vivendi is no stranger to hostile takeovers considering that they initiated a takeover of the mobile game developer Gameloft back in early June. For context, Gameloft was previously owned by the Guillemot family as well. That same war for control is what Ubisoft is facing from the very same French multimedia conglomerate. Whether you see the significance or not, the truth is that this war could reshape the franchises that we know and love.
So what happens if Vivendi takes over Ubisoft?
Ubisoft has countless games, present and future, that could be at stake if Vivendi does initiate a hostile takeover of the company. It's a definite possibility that Vivendi begins the process of taking over the game developer, even though the current majority of shareholders have voices their massive support for the current strategy and management provided by the Guillemots.
The biggest change could be in the overall direction and creative process that the development teams take in the games they design. Currently Ubisoft takes pride in the creative talent that they have. Tommy Francois says it the best:
"Ubisoft lets the creatives get on with their work. We take time to dig, to get out in the field. That's not something our rivals do and that's why our games are known for attention to detail and complex worlds."
The Guillemot brothers are adamant that a takeover by Vivendi would "kill creativity" and that "80% of the time he spends with his creative directors is dedicated to discussing the people and how to retain them." This approach is something that Vivendi doesn't understand and could ultimately bring about Ubisoft's talent pool as the team would begin scattering while they look for other developers who would allow them to once again feel the creativity. The takeover would eventually cause more harm than good, although it may not be noticeable immediately.
It's completely understood as to what the motives are for Vivendi, because they're mostly focused on film, television and music. Vivendi currently controls Canal+, Universal Music Group (Island Def Jam, Capitol, Republic, etc.) and a 90% stake in DailyMotion. Bringing Ubisoft into it's conglomerate reign would give them a much larger share of the European media market, but that's about the end of the obvious reasons considering that they no longer hold a directorial say in Activision Blizzard.