Ubisoft Entertainment is a French computer and video game publisher and developer with headquarters in Montreuil-sous-Bois, France. The company has facilities in over 20 countries, with studios in Montreal and Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; Bucharest, Romania; Barcelona, Spain; Shanghai, Chengdu, China; Singapore; Cary, North Carolina, USA; Düsseldorf, Germany; Sofia, Bulgaria; Casablanca, Morocco; Sydney, Australia; Milan, Italy; Pune, India; São Paulo, Brazil; and Libya amongst other locations.
As of 2004, it was the third-largest independent video game publisher in Europe, and the seventh largest in the United States. In 2008, Ubisoft ranked 21st on the list of largest software companies in the world. Ubisoft's revenue for 2002-2003 was €453 million; for fiscal year 2003-2004, this grew to €508 million. As of 2005, Ubisoft employed more than 3,500 people, of which over 1,700 are classed as working in production. The company's largest development studio is Ubisoft Montreal, which in 2004 employed approximately 1,600 people. Yves Guillemot, a founding brother, was the chairman and CEO. As for 2008-2009, Ubisoft's revenue was €1,058 million, reaching the 1 billion euro milestone for the first time in its history.
The five brothers of the Guillemot family founded Ubisoft as a computer game publisher in 1986 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.
In the early 1990s, 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 Shanghai and Montreal. In 2000, Ubisoft acquired Red Storm Entertainment.
In February 2001, they acquired Düsseldorf, Germany based Blue Byte Software. In March 2001, Gores Technology Group sold The Learning Company's entertainment division (which included games originally published by Brøderbund Software, 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 December 2004, a rival game corporation, Electronic Arts, purchased a 19.9% stake in the firm, an action Ubisoft referred to as "hostile" on EA's part.
In March 2005, Ubisoft acquired part of MC2-Microïds (Microïds Canada) and integrated it into Ubisoft Montreal. In July 2006 Ubisoft also bought the Driver franchise from Atari for a sum of €19 million (USD$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.
On April 11th, 2007, Ubisoft announced that it had acquired German game developer Sunflowers, followed by an acquisition of Japanese developer Digital Kids that November.
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 and Harvest Moon Online, which are Marvelous Interactive productions. On November 10th, 2008, Ubisoft acquired Massive Entertainment from Activision.
As one of the largest video game companies in the world, Ubisoft has several divisions and offices throughout the world. While some were founded by Ubisoft, others have been acquired over time. Some of these studios are:
- Digital Kids in Japan, acquired November 2007.
- Red Storm Entertainment in Morrisville, North Carolina, founded in 1996 and acquired in August 2000.
- Sinister Games, acquired in April 2000.
- Ubisoft Australia, distributes Square Enix's games, due to Square Enix not having an Australian presence.
- Ubisoft Chengdu, started on September 17, 2007.
- Ubisoft Germany in Düsseldorf, Germany, started in 2005, acquired Gamebusters in October 2001 and merged employees.
- Blue Byte Software in Düsseldorf, Germany, founded in 1988, acquired February 2001.
- Related Designs Software GmbH, founded in January 1995, acquired a 30% stake in the company on April 11, 2007.
- Sunflowers Interactive Entertainment Software GmbH in Heusenstamm, Germany, founded in 1993, acquired on April 11, 2007.
- Ubisoft India, started in 2008 after acquiring the Pune Gameloft studio. Will focus on porting games to the current generation of 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 Kiev, started April 29, 2008.
- Ubisoft Massive in Malmö, Sweden, founded as Massive Entertainment in 1987, acquired from Vivendi Games on November 10, 2008.
- Ubisoft Montpellier, current projects include Rabbids Go Home, Beyond Good & Evil 2 and The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn. Michel Ancel is a developer for this division.
- Ubisoft Montreal, started in 1997 as Ubisoft Divertissements Inc., acquired the Canadian division of Microids on March 2, 2005, eventually merged into this division.
- Hybride Technologies, acquired July 8, 2008.
- Nadeo in Issy-les-Moulineaux, Paris, France, founded in 2000. Acquired in October 5, 2009.
- Ubisoft Paris, made games such as Rayman Raving Rabbids 2, Red Steel and XIII. They are currently developing Red Steel 2 for Q1 2010.
- Ubisoft Poland, will open in 2009.
- Ubisoft Quebec, started June 1st, 2005, based in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
- Ubisoft Reflections in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, founded in 1984 as Reflections Interactive and acquired in August 26, 2006, from Atari.
- Ubisoft Romania in Bucharest, Romania, started in October 1992.
- Ubisoft São Paulo, started on June 24, 2008 and on January 20, 2009 they acquired Southlogic Studios and integrated it into this studio.
- 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 Toronto, will open in 2009. It will employ over 800 people.
- Ubisoft Ukraine, took part in porting Blazing Angels 2: Secret Missions of WWII and ported Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. on PC and are currently working on an unannounced project.
- Ubisoft Vancouver, started on February 3, 2009 after acquiring Action Pants Inc.. Made Academy of Champions and Pure Football, and are working on an unannounced project.
- Wolfpack Studios in Austin, Texas, founded in 1999 and acquired on March 1, 2004.
Video Game EnginesEdit
Ubisoft utilizes a multitude of engines. In the current generation, it has licensed third party engines like Epic's Games' Unreal Engine 2.5 (Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction), Unreal Engine 3.0 (Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas, and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway), GRIN's Diesel Engine (Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (PC), Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 (PC)), and the CryEngine (Far Cry Instincts) Onyx Engine was used in several 2007 DS and PSP releases; Cranium Kabookii, Chessmaster: The Art of Learning (DS), Surf's Up (DS and PSP), and TMNT (DS and PSP).
In addition, it has utilized proprietary and first party technology, including: the Anvil engine (Assassin's Creed, Prince of Persia, Shaun White Snowboarding, Assassin's Creed 2), the YETI engine (Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter,Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2, America's Army: True Soldiers, Beowulf, Lost: Via Domus) and the Jade engine (Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie, Rayman Raving Rabbids, TMNT, Rayman Raving Rabbids 2, Naruto: Rise of a Ninja, Naruto: The Broken Bond), the LyN engine (Rabbids Go Home, Red Steel 2), and the Dunia engine (Far Cry 2).
Ubisoft had, for a time, used the controversial StarForce copy protection technology that installs hidden 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.
When Ubisoft software is installed, a product registration application called "PRegScheduler MFC Application" is copied as "PowerReg Scheduler.exe" outside of its specified installation directories. It is placed directly in the Startup folder, rather than linking to the Ubisoft folder. "PowerReg Scheduler.exe" may show up as "PowerREGISTER" in your task list. Examination of the programs properties shows the "Company Name" to be blank, even though the rest of the property information is available. The inability to identify this application by installation directory or by company information has resulted in reports of alarm from certain users that an unknown program by an unidentified company has been placed in their startup folder for unknown purpose.
In July 2008 it was revealed that a patch for Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, which allowed users to play without a CD, used a code stolen from a third-party hack. 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 2008, Ubisoft sued Optical Experts Manufacturing (OEM), a DVD Duplication company for $20 million+ damages for the leak and distribution of its Assassins Creed PC game. 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.