If you’re not up-to-date with the story so far, giant media conglomerate Vivendi is looking to take control of Ubisoft by buying up all their stock. They currently own just over 15% of the company. But Ubisoft have a defensive weapon: if Vivendi don’t stand down, the talent that powers the French developer will walk away.
Ubisoft are no strangers to hostile takeover attempts. Back in 2004 EA attempted such a move, and this key argument about talent was able to convince them to back off. “There’s a Ubisoft way that was true when EA made an approach in 2004 and is still true today, based on teamwork, on crossing paths with people and growing together,” said editorial chief Olivier Dauba in an interview with Bloomberg.
“If there’s a hostile takeover by Vivendi and Guillemot leaves, every person who is good at Ubisoft would be recruited by EA, Activision and Take Two," explained analyst Michael Pachter when talking to Bloomberg.
Following the announcement of The Division’s record-breaking sales figures, Ubisoft head Yves Guillemot said “This is the kind of energy we need to show our strength, our values. It’s up to us to perform, to boost our company value and to make it harder for anyone to take us over.”
There are a few hundred big names working at Ubisoft, and they’ve been instrumental in making games like Assassin’s Creed and The Division massive successes for Ubisoft. Many of them have been working for Ubisoft for more than a decade, which is often due to the relaxed atmosphere Ubisoft offers its creatives.
“This company lets the creatives get on with their work,” Tommy Francois, who develops Ubi’s IP, told Bloomberg. “We take time to dig, to go out on the field. That’s not something our rivals do and that’s why our games are known for attention to detail and complex worlds.”
Without people like Francois working at Ubisoft, the company is arguably worth significantly less. If the talent that creates such monumental success stories as Assassin’s Creed jumps ship, will Vivendi have acquired what they’re actually after? Perhaps such a threat is enough to keep the sharks at bay.