French media conglomerate Vivendi is looking to complete its takeover of Ubisoft this year, according to a report from Reuters.
As of this winter, Vivendi owns a 25 percent share in the video game publisher, which according to French law puts the company on the precipice of having to make a takeover bid, which is required when it reaches a 30 percent stake. Vivendi has continued to insist that a takeover isn’t in the cards, but such claims have looked more and more ridiculous as it both buys up a greater stake in Ubisoft itself and acquires and takes control of other companies at the same time. The company has spent about $16 billion on acquisitions in the last three years. Vivendi’s shares have fallen, and Vivendi chairman Vincent Bollore is expected to lay out his plans at an upcoming shareholder meeting.
Meanwhile, Ubisoft has continued to resist every step of the way, swapping in supportive board members, seeking outside funding, and making impassioned speeches.
Ubisoft is a video game company, Vivendi isn’t
We might complain about some of Ubisoft’s games, but when we get down to it, Ubisoft is a video game company. It has made and continues to make some unique, experimental games along with some stellar blockbusters. Vivendi is a media conglomerate that cares only about profit, and sees Ubisoft as an affordable way to get back into video games.
Vivendi previously owned Activision, but Activision eventually bought itself free of that control, so Vivendi has to find another way back into the industry. Buying a developer and publisher instead of setting up your own makes sense from a logistical perspective – all you have to do is let them keep working and they’ll make you money. But as Vivendi takes greater control, the company will have more say in what Ubisoft does, and that will likely mean fewer experiments and fewer licenses. It could even mean an end to years off for franchises like Assassin’s Creed that so dearly need the time to regenerate after years of relentless sequels.
The takeover seems inevitable at this point. It’s hard to imagine how Ubisoft could wrestle free of Vivendi’s grasp. Instead, we hope for the best – we hope Ubisoft can survive intact and come out stronger at some point.