Ubisoft's Journey: More Than Just A Game!
Video games have seen a sublime transformation since their first introduction to the technological world. Years ago, the creativity in making video games played a huge part, and despite this, producing quality content still posed somewhat of a mystery.
Thanks to the development of technology and computer science throughout the years, however, we are now witnessing creations and visualizations of mind-blowing proportions.
Visually-rich games and numerous small-scale smartphone games dominate the gaming world, as the rise of gaming not only provided people with new means of entertainment but has also allowed many businesses and developers to approach whole layers of gaming the world hadn't yet seen!
The founders of the company Ubisoft planted their passion in those same grounds, and they now own - mind you - the third biggest video game development company.
Now, before you imagine a partnership of two or three, let us break that stereotype by noting it took five brothers to build this empire.
Read on to witness the great journey of an innovative family ahead of its time:
Accomplishing everything overnight is an almost impossible task in this day and age, and sometimes, before things get better, they first need to get worse.
No one knows this better than the Guillemot family.
Had they not shown tremendous effort, consistency, and cohesion, the family wouldn't have stood a chance in the big ocean of entrepreneurs. Now, multiply these abilities by five, and you have got yourself a recipe for utter and undeniable success!
From farmers to world-famous video game makers, five brothers brought a dream to life-
Christian, Claude, Gérard, Michel, and Yves - all French and tenacious to succeed, with the full ability to do so.
Before Ubisoft, the Guillemot brothers had tried their hands in a range of other businesses.
With a farm-based family empire, there was a real less margin in the business. Plus, the brothers soon realized that the farming industry didn't pay as much as promised and it caused a major decline. Fresh out of farming, the brothers ventured into CD and computer sales, thus following the latest market trends. Business was good, booming even, and in the nick of time it seems, the five enriched their assortment with PCs.
Sure, the trade was going well, and along with selling computers, they also sold a variety of farming essentials. The Guillemots then came up with the brilliant idea to transcend into video games and had 20 machines installed, enabling buyers to game on the spot.
By 1980, the brothers also switched between markets and went all-USA, which turned out to be the cheaper and more profitable option. As expected, this led to a huge difference in the profits, and as a result, the five brothers launched their second-in-line business.
Guillemot Informatique was launched in 1984, and softwares never looked the same again.
Later in 1985, the entrepreneuring five earned solid profits trading video games but somehow, it wasn't right where they wanted to be. How do you take a business from decent to state-of-the-art? You provide your own product, that's how.
For the Guillemot brothers, that meant developing their own games - a venture they first embraced in 1986!
Founding and Major Project Release
It was official: on March 12th, 1986, the Guillemot brothers founded Ubisoft in Carentoir, Brittany. Ubisoft is the acronym for Ubiquitous Software, while formally, it was referred to as Ubisoft Entertainment S.A. For development purposes, the siblings gathered a team of developers, which helped set up their first office in a chateau in Carentoir.
Two years into the startup, the brothers managed their company exclusively from chateau grounds, a pricey decision which caused some of their team to move to Paris.
One of their first recruited staff, Michel Ancel, who also returned to his hometown that same year, brought back a developer with him, Frederic Houde, along with a prototype of a game which, for 1994, boasted highly-animated features.
The prototype caught the immediate attention of the Guillemot brothers, and in 1994, they did the same, labeling the project a priority. They also set up an office in Montreuil and hired a hundred developers to aid the development of the project, and the game was on!
Ubisoft's First Customers and Fundings
In 1995, Ubisoft took the stage and launched its first hit video game, Rayman. The game itself targeted the new line of fifth-generation consoles, such as the Atari Jaguar and PlayStation. Its instantaneous success only fueled the company's popularity, ultimately driving it to worldwide recognition.
The first game that the brothers Guillemot launched was a huge hit, and, in just 1996 they raised over $80 million in funds. The success on the US market led Ubisoft to work with companies like Microsoft, at a time when no one was ready to test the Xbox waters.
Throughout the years, Ubisoft launched countless profitable projects and they had no worries about their business. It went perfect. It stayed perfect, too, up until lawsuits came knocking on their door. Rivalry set in and battles took off. Low blows were thrown as much as they were received - but, either way, the fight for dominance continued!
Ups and Downs
The following years were not quite as peaceful for the five entrepreneurs. On one hand, it was due to the versatile business situations they partook in. On the other, no trouble affected the success and fame they had already gained!
In 2008, Ubisoft sued Optical Experts Manufacturing (OEM), a DVD duplication company for $25 million-plus damages for the leak and distribution of the PC version of Assassin's Creed.
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.
By April 2012, Ubisoft was sued by John L. Beiswenger, the author of the book Link, who alleged copyright infringement for using his ideas in the Assassin's Creed franchise.
The writer demanded $5.25 million in damages and a halt to the release of Assassin's Creed III - set to be released in October, 2012 - along with any future games that allegedly use his ideas. But, as May of 2012 came to a close, Beiswenger dropped the lawsuit. He was later quoted saying, 'Authors should vigorously defend their rights in their creative works'. He also suggested that Ubisoft's motion to block future lawsuits from Beiswenger hints at their guilt.
Ubisoft offered a free game from their catalog of recently released titles back in December, 2014. The goal was to compensate the season pass owners of Assassin's Creed Unity due to its buggy launch.The terms offered, however, revoked the user's right to sue Ubisoft for the inapt launch of the game. Ubisoft also sued Chinese developer Ejoy, Apple, and Google over Ejoy's Area F2 game, which allegedly was a carbon copy of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege.
Ubisoft sought copyright action against Ejoy, as well as financial damages against Apple and Google for allowing Area F2 to be distributed on their mobile app stores and profiting from its microtransactions.
This just proved what the brothers suspected from the start: the gaming industry would prove a rough game to play!
Conclusively with 2017, the estimated valuation of the company was registered at $6.4 billion. Currently, the company owns several video game studios across the world. As of 2018, it became the fourth largest publicly-traded game company in America and Europe.
Today, Ubisoft's net bookings for the first quarter of 2020-21 are expected to rise up to €335 million, versus the €314.2 million earned in the first quarter of 2019-20.
Playing the game, indeed!