Every time Vivendi’s looming hostile takeover of Ubisoft is thrown back into the media spotlight, there seems to be a small group of people who seem keen on Vivendi throwing the Guillemot’s out of power.
Many of these commentators have genuine complainants with Ubisoft. Whether it be micro-transaction or DLC policies, games being rushed out (with downgrades) or any of the other complaints, legitimate complaints.
The problem with these commentators is that they’re under the illusion that all these problems will suddenly go away with Vivendi in charge. If anything, these issues will likely be amplified.
A prime example of this happening with Vivendi itself, was when the conglomerate purchased Activision in 2008. Vivendi immediately merged the company with Blizzard, to create what’s now known as Activision Blizzard. The conglomerate then proceeded to push the Call of Duty franchise hard, while shelving many of the more experimental titles in development.
Vivendi’s involvement resulted in hundreds of job losses, after fall outs with Infinity Ward and dropping the Guitar Hero franchise after milking it dry. While Call of Duty sales soared, there were complaints of a quality slump and lack of originality in the franchise. Eventually shareholder trust began to wain as the publisher began to post significant losses. To avoid the problems, Vivendi forced the heads of Activision Blizzard to buy back $5.83B worth of shares or it’d shutter the publisher and sell its IPs.
Activision Blizzard took out a huge loan to cover the cost purchase, but it took the successes of future Call of Duty games to allow the publisher bounce back and enable the releases of Overwatch and Destiny, and become, once again, one of the biggest game publishers in the industry.
That’s what Vivnedi can do to the biggest of publishers, and as such, paints a gloomy picture for what could be in store for Ubisoft.
Alternatively, a Ubisoft under Yves Guillemot, is a Ubisoft who will take risks on projects like For Honor, Beyond Good and Evil 2, Starlink and Child of Light. It’s a Ubisoft who’d be willing to take in feedback, and make it’s biggest franchises take breaks to improve the quality their content. It’s a Ubsioft that nurtures creators like Davide “Crying Man” Soliani, the creative director of Mario + Rabbids and Michel Ancel, creator of Rayman and Beyond Good and Evil.
A Ubisoft under Yves Guillemot, while not perfect, is a company, as large as it is, who take on board feedback, are willing to change, are willing to take risks and above all, be creative in AAA industry in severe need of a kick up the arse. And I feel that’s something we should be championing for, rather than condemning them to emotionless death at the hands of Vivendi.