Vivendi have, slowly but surely, been making a play for Ubisoft. Since 2015 they’ve been slowly raising their stake in the company and attempting a takeover. It’s the first time the mass media conglomerate has made significant moves in games since selling Activision-Blizzard to themselves a couple of years back. Ubisoft management have made it clear they aren’t keen on the idea on several occasions, and according to VP of live operations Anne Blondel, it just wouldn’t be the same company and it wouldn’t get to make the same game.
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“The thought I have is that I have been [here], with Ubisoft, for 20 years, and I know what made us so successful for 30 years, is being super independent, being very autonomous,” she explains. “[On] sales, well sometimes we take a lot of risk, you think about The Crew, that was a risk. People would look at that like, ‘maybe it’s not going to work, another racing game, what are you thinking?’ Child of Light, Valiant Hearts, all those kinds of titles.”
Easy as it is to dismiss the Ubisoft formula of open world games, they do put out quite a diverse set of games both within that formula and outside it. Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, The Division and The Crew might all involve unlocking areas of a map as you go, but they’re not exactly identical. Beyond that, as Blondel mentions, they go a lot more out of the box. There’s also risks like Watch_Dogs 2, where a safe sequel was eschewed by one with an entirely different style and tone.
“I think that’s what makes Ubisoft so different, and personally speaking, I think this is what we are,” continues Blondel. “This is what we want to remain, it’s what has made us successful and been able to deliver the type of games we’ve been delivering for 30 years.
“So far so good, I would say, because gamers are still [with us] and I know for a fact, having been there for 20 years, that if you [separate] us from our independence, if you take away the way we like taking risk and inventing new stuff, well it’s not going to be the same Ubisoft - for me, it wouldn’t be the same.”