From a family business to a global gaming giant, Ubisoft’s desire to embrace new ideas and technologies (with a few glaring exceptions) has propelled it to the frontlines of a rapidly evolving gaming industry. With its commitment to delivering cutting-edge video game titles, the history of Ubisoft is one of customer-centricity and strategic growth.

If you’re a business owner, marketer, content creator, or someone intending to learn from the game developer’s successful business story, keep reading. We’ve used our expertise at Business2Community to take you on a journey through Ubisoft’s key developments and milestones, including its ownership history, net worth, and more.

 A History of Ubisoft – Key Dates

  • The Guillemot brothers founded Ubisoft in 1986 in Carentoir, France.
  • In 1996, Ubisoft went public, raising over $80 million to expand its global footprint.
  • By its 20th anniversary, Ubisoft had 8 multi-million unit selling brands accounting for two-thirds of its annual turnover.
  • In 2023, the company successfully pivoted to a live service monetization model with many of its major titles, generating close to $1 billion in revenue.
  • As of April 2024, the company had a market cap of $3.02 billion, down a significant 75% from a high of $11.94 billion in 2020.

Who Owns Ubisoft?

As a public company, Ubisoft is owned by shareholders including the Guillemot family who have a major stake of 14% in the company. With a 9.8% stake, Ma Huateng’s Chinese tech monolith Tencent is the second largest shareholder. Tencent is followed by Capital Research & Management Co., which owns a 5.3% stake.

The company’s trajectory was set in motion when the five Guillemot brothers started to sell video games. Realizing a gap in the video game distribution market, the brothers went from fulfilling individual requests via mail order to importing games and selling them to retailers at 50% less than other suppliers.

Seeing even more opportunities in the rapidly expanding software development industry, the five brothers founded Ubisoft in 1986. The brothers, who sought to create and distribute video games around the world, aptly named their business Ubi Soft, meaning “ubiquitous” software.

Ubisoft Headquarters and Locations

Ubisoft headquarters were initially located in Créteil, Paris and mainly used for administrative purposes. For game development, the Guillemot brothers chose a chateau in Brittany, hoping the unique setting would attract developers. Unfortunately, due to mounting costs and complexities, Ubisoft moved development back to the Paris metro area after 18 months.

Ubisoft headquarters
Fast forward to 2024, Ubisoft headquarters are situated in the eco-friendly Floresco building in Saint-Mandé, France, along with key local studios like Ubisoft Paris and Ubisoft Montpellier. Overall, as of April 2024, Ubisoft has 57 office locations and 45 development studios around the world.

Who is the Ubisoft CEO?

The CEO of Ubisoft is Yves Guillemot, who has held the position since February 1988. Appointed as Chairman and CEO by his brothers, Yves established Ubisoft’s strategy of using ground-breaking technologies to innovate, create brands, and capture market share. Throughout his tenure, he has focused on organic growth, creating an organization renowned for its global talent and collaborative approach.

Ubisoft CEO

Growth and Development of Ubisoft

Ubisoft Entertainment is a video game distribution, development, and publishing company whose organic growth spans 35 years. Below, we track its key milestones.

1986 – 1995: Foundations

Ubisoft, formerly Ubi Soft Entertainment S.A, was founded in Carentoir, France, by five Guillemot brothers – Christian, Claude, Gérard, Michel, and Yves – in March 1986.

Ubisoft’s first year was marked by the successful sales distribution of games for PC, Amstrad (owned by British billionaire Alan Sugar), Amiga, and Atari as well as distribution deals with large US, British, and German publishers such as Elite, Microprose, Electronic Arts, Sierra, LucasArts, Interplay, Software Toolworks, and Novalogic.

Zombi

By 1989, Ubisoft had released its first game – Zombi – and set up marketing subsidiaries in large international markets such as the UK, Germany, and the US as part of its international expansion.

Two years later, the company began distributing products for the rapidly growing market for Nintendo and Sega video game consoles.

Over the next several years, Ubisoft focused on international growth, opening its first internal development studios in Montreuil, France, and Romania in 1994. The gaming giant kicked off 1995 with Rayman, its first major gaming franchise.

1996 – 2001: Going Public

In 1996, Ubisoft went public, raising over $80 million to expand its global footprint with new production units such as Ubisoft Shanghai in 1996 and Ubisoft Montreal in 1997.

The next year, Ubisoft signed an agreement with Playmobil for the exclusive development of virtual adventures of the firm’s well-known characters.

When the internet arrived in 1999, the Guillemot brothers acquired game studios such as Gameloft, which were geared towards online free-to-play titles. It also signed numerous licenses with organizations such as Disney, Warner Brothers, and Sony Pictures. This paid off and Ubisoft’s value skyrocketed in the following months.

Tom Clancy

Raising €170 million (approximately $155 million at the time), Ubisoft acquired Red Storm Entertainment which produced Tom Clancy games in 2000. The move helped the company break into the lucrative US market, establishing Ubisoft as a global player to be reckoned with.

In 2001, Ubisoft acquired Game Studio, the entertainment division of The Learning Company (US) giving the company exclusive publishing rights for more than 80 titles, including Prince of Persia, Chessmaster, and Myst. It also acquired Blue Byte Software, the German company responsible for bestselling PC games such as The Settlers Series and The Battle Isle Series.

As a result of these strategic acquisitions, Ubisoft was among the world’s top 10 independent publishers in 2001.

2002 – 2007: Expanding Frontiers

By 2002, Ubisoft had development teams in worldwide studios across 10 different countries throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. The company was also considered the second largest player in the video game creation worldwide with a combined core product catalog of six brands across multiple consoles and platforms.

The Rayman and Tom Clancy brands were particularly successful, each selling over 12 million and 7.5 million copies, respectively since their release.

Sales 2001 to 2007

That same year, Ubisoft had 150 titles in development across its development studios. This included 34 for PlayStation 2, 26 for GameCube, 21 for Xbox, 20 for Game Boy Advance, and 48 for PC.

Ubisoft’s Montreal studio successfully revived the Prince of Persia brand and officially revealed it at a Sony booth in 2003.

Prince of persia

The company also sold a record 24 million units throughout the year. Top sellers included:

  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell (Xbox and PlayStation 2)
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon (Xbox)
  • Rayman 3 Hoodlum Havoc (PlayStation 2 and Game Boy Advance)

On 20 December 2004, Electronic Arts (EA), the world’s largest computer games publisher at the time, purchased a 20% stake in Ubisoft, raising suspicion that the US company was planning a hostile takeover of the smaller French company. However, Ubisoft remained free to independently build games. Six years later, EA sold its entire stake to unidentified investors.

Having grown 150% since 2001, the company started to make progress in increasing its presence in the highly profitable MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online games) market with the launch of Shadowbane and the signing of a publishing agreement for EverQuest II and Lords of EverQuest in Europe in 2004.

Gaining ground in key markets, Ubisoft jumped 16 positions to earn the title of the world’s 4th biggest independent publisher (excluding Japan) in 2005. Additionally, its early positioning on next-gen consoles drove major market share gains, establishing Ubisoft as the clear leader on Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

By its 20th Anniversary, Ubisoft had 8 multi-million unit-selling brands accounting for two-thirds of its annual turnover. At the end of 2007, Ubisoft released its bestselling franchise, the Assassin’s Creed series, which has sold over 200 million copies to date. At this point, Ubisoft was acting very cautiously without the same embrace of exciting new titles or technology. Instead of focusing on building a bunch of brand new exciting games, it made 13 different Assassin’s Creed games, which all had extraordinarily similar gameplay.

2008 – 2013: Continued Growth

Now, with up to 14 blockbuster brands, Ubisoft continued its expansion, opening studios in Chengdu (China), Singapore, and Kyiv in 2008. That same year, Ubisoft acquired the Tom Clancy name for video games and ancillary products. It also completed the acquisition of Massive Entertainment Studios (Sweden) and Pune (India).

The company opened Ubisoft Toronto in 2009, it also completed the acquisition of the Nadéo studio and the cult online brand TrackMania.

By 2010, Ubisoft was generating over $1 billion in annual sales — a trend that would persist throughout the early and late 2010s.

With the acquisition of Owlient studio, specializing in free-to-play games, and RedLynx, specializing in downloadable games in 2011, Ubisoft further bolstered its market position. That same year, Ubisoft created Ubisoft Motion Pictures, its own film division, to create films and television shows based on its games.

Ubisoft Films and Entertainment

In April 2012, John L. Beiswenger, a Sci-Fi author filed a lawsuit against Ubisoft for alleged copyright infringement. He accused the company of using his ideas in the Assassin’s Creed franchise and called for $5.25 million in damages. Beiswenger also demanded that the release of Assassin’s Creed III, along with any future games containing his ideas be stopped. However, on 30 May 2012, citing the hefty expense of going through with a trial, he dropped the lawsuit.

Later in July that year, Ubisoft launched Uplay, its own online services and distribution platform. In 2013, the company added to its diverse portfolio with the acquisition of THQ Montreal and two specialists in free-to-play games: Digital Chocolate and Future Games. The company also partnered with Electronic Arts, Warner Bros, and other developers for the distribution of their PC games on Uplay Shop.

2014 – 2019: New Ventures

Ubisoft acquired full ownership of the French studio Ivory Tower SAS and its subsidiary, Ivory Art & Design SARL, the creators of the successful racing game The Crew, in October 2015. Throughout 2015 and 2016, other Ubisoft brands such as The Crew, Far Cry, Just Dance, and Watch Dogs also joined the ranks as some of the company’s most successful franchises.

Ubisoft brands

Between 2012 and 2017, Ubisoft’s share of digital sales rose from 11.7% to 50%, reflecting its shifting business model from one dependent on new releases to one focused on long-term engagement with gamers.

To achieve this, the company overhauled its titles portfolio, developing numerous multiplayer games to drive up engagement in the Ubisoft world. 2018 also saw the company expand into mobile gaming with the acquisitions of the company Ketchapp and the game Growtopia.

By 2019, all of Ubisoft’s main brands were wholly owned by the company. To break into lucrative markets, the company also acquired i3D.net, a leader in hosting solutions for the video game industry, and a majority stake in Green Panda Games, a specialist in hyper-casual free-to-play mobile games.

2020 – Present: The Evolution Continues

Between June and July 2020, Ubisoft was implicated in a wave of sexual misconduct accusations in the #MeToo Movement. In June 2020, the company placed two executives and several other employees on administrative leave as part of a corporate investigation into the allegations.

On July 11, 2020, Ubisoft announced the voluntary resignations of Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoët, Managing Director of Ubisoft’s Canada studios and Yannis Mallat, Global Head of Human Resources Cécile Cornet. Ashraf Ismail, creative director of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, was later terminated by Ubisoft in August 2020 after internal investigations.

In 2020, Ubisoft rebranded its Uplay to Ubisoft Connect. The move sought to make cross-platform functionality a standard for the future.

Ubisoft Connect

By 2023, the company had successfully pivoted to a live service monetization model with many of its major titles. Following the 53% increase in net bookings between 2017 and 2021, the company generated close to $1 billion in net bookings through selling digital items, DLC, seasonal passes, subscriptions, and advertising during the 2022-23 fiscal year.

Ubisoft’s cloud gaming ventures received a boost in October 2023 when the company acquired the cloud streaming rights for Call of Duty and all other current and future Activision Blizzard games outside of the EU for the next 15 years.

What is Ubisoft’s Net Worth or Market Capitalization?

As of September 2023, Ubisoft has a net worth (also known as market cap) of $1.67 billion, a slight drop from the previous year. However, looking at the bigger picture, Ubisoft’s net worth has increased steadily over the past decade, reaching a high of $2.01 billion in 2022 from around $1 billion in 2013.

Ubisoft Net Worth

While this indicates a positive overall trend, Ubisoft’s net worth is just one metric to consider when evaluating its financial health. In 2023, the company generated revenue of $1.97 billion, slightly down from $2.3 billion in 2022.

Looking at the past decade, the company’s revenue has continued to tick up, hitting highs of $2.37 billion in 2022 from $1.4 billion in 2012.

As of April 2024, the company had a market cap of $3.02 billion, down a significant 75% from a high of $11.94 billion in 2020.

Over the years, the Ubisoft company logo has evolved in step with its identity and mission.

1986: Bold 80s Style

Ubisoft’s first logo was a wordmark featuring the dark pink letters ‘UBI’ outlined in light blue for a 3D effect, paired with the word ‘soft’ in a white handwritten font. This design was inspired by the distinct visual style of the 80s and represented Ubisoft’s identity as a local startup distributor of video games.

1995: The Rainbow

Nine years after the launch of Rayman, Ubisoft introduced the rainbow. This new logo marked the company’s shift from distributor to creator. It also highlighted Ubisoft’s development of fun, family-oriented content.

Ubisoft logos

2003: The Iconic Swirl

The acquisition of Red Storm and the creation of new Tom Clancy titles marked a shift to a more mature and diversified era for Ubisoft. In response, the company revamped its identity, introducing the iconic swirl.

2017: The New Swirl

The evolution of its existing logo to a minimalist, monochromatic design signaled a new era for Ubisoft: increased focus on live and digital games as well as a player-centric approach to creating immersive worlds. Reminiscent of hand-drawn shapes, the new swirl and letter O also highlighted Ubisoft’s human qualities of enthusiasm and curiosity.

The Future of Ubisoft

Ubisoft’s journey highlights the importance of adapting to shifting market trends. By creating synergy between its marketing and production teams, Ubisoft has consistently been able to offer players the games they demand, at least until recently.

Additionally, placing diverse teams at the heart of value creation can provide a distinct edge. Early on, Ubisoft understood that creating original content in-house and developing proprietary brands would be key to its success. As such, the company continues to invest in attracting and retaining the best talent. Ubisoft future

Looking ahead, Ubisoft’s future is quite promising, given its massive portfolio of popular brands, but it has to return to its curious, pioneering culture to recapture the excitement of the gaming industry again. With the continued growth of the video game industry, the company plans to leverage more forms of monetization (premium, free-to-play, and subscription), reach more diverse audiences, and strengthen player engagement. As it has proved throughout its history, Ubisoft has the capacity and expertise to exploit changing market dynamics.

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