Ubisoft is a name modern gamers associate with open-world games littered with side missions and towers, gameplay trailers that look better than the final product, and gross misuse of the word “iconic.” Later this year, gamers might have to add “Vivendi” that list.
According to Reuters, Vivendi plans to buy more shares of Ubisoft. As of right now, Vivendi only owns twenty-five percent of the company, but Chairman Vincent Bollore wants to move on to a “second phase.” Ubisoft’s owners and creators, the Guillemot family, are doing everything they can to keep their company, but their resistance might do more harm than good, as Vivendi might simply present an unsolicited full takeover bid.
According to an unnamed source cited by Reuters, Vivendi’s most logical course of action would simply be to outright buy Ubisoft, even though, according to the that source, Bollore does not intend to buy the company. Whether or not he buys the company, since Vivendi is based in France, French laws dictate that once a company owns 30% of another company’s shares, an offer has to be made regarding ownership. Since Vivendi already owns 25% of Ubisoft, Vivendi will have to make an offer if it buys more stock.
Ubisoft is not Vivendi’s first foray into video games. From 2001 to 2008, Vivendi Games, also known as Vivendi Universal Games, was a subsidiary of Vivendi that partnered with several game companies. Among the more notable games Vivendi Games published were F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon and The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. In 2008, Activision Blizzard — yes, that one — merged with Vivendi Games, effectively ending its existence as a subsidiary of Vivendi. However, that was not the end of Vivendi’s relationship with video games. Last year, Vivendi acquired ownership of Gameloft, a developer mostly associated with mobile games such as Order & Chaos Online, Spider-Man Unlimited, and N.O.V.A. Legacy. Interestingly, Gameloft was also created by the Guillemot family.
While we do not know if Vivendi will actually try to acquire Ubisoft, the more important question will be: what happens if it owns Ubisoft? Will Vivendi take the company in a new direction or will it mostly be left to its own devices? Will Vivendi’s ownership improve the quality of games? Given Ubisoft’s recent games, I honestly do not know whether or not I want to find out the answers to these questions.