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"StarGate, Ubisoft, Sparkle!"

Ubisoft (originally written as Ubi Soft) is a video game publisher and developer headquartered in Montreuil-sous-Bois, France, with branches in 20 different countries, including the United States, Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and China. Their games have appeared on a wide variety of platforms since the early 1990's.

One of the largest gaming publishers in the world, with 25 different studios and nearly 14,000 employees, Ubisoft is known for an unusual development pipeline: as opposed to most publishers, which generally have different studios work on different games in their lonesome, with any cross-studio interaction generally being limited to technical support, Ubisoft has their studios all co-develop various parts of a game and bring it together into a whole, to the point that the lead of the Assassin's Creed franchise, Jean Guesdon, broke down the map of Assassin's Creed Origins down into various chunks to highlight what studios made what parts of the map.


This system has its benefits and its drawbacks - on the plus side, it allows Ubisoft to put out massive, reasonably polished games on a regular schedule, and generally means that, while certainly not immune to the Troubled Production curse, most of their games tend to have a fairly smooth development cycle compared to what publishers like Electronic Arts and Activision frequently deal with. On the downside, it means that Ubisoft's games are frequently criticised for being Strictly Formula open-world games filled with busywork and a few specific types of side-quests. It also means that the credits roll on their games tend to be extremely long - even smaller games like Rayman Legends can have their credits reach 20 minutes in length.

Ubisoft has also gained a reputation for being about as watertight as a ship that's halfway to the ocean floor - by the time Ubisoft gets around to officially announcing a game, it's more likely than not that a name, a description, official artwork, a trailer, and possibly gameplay footage are all floating around on the internet. It got to the point that the publisher's own Watch_Dogs 2 parodied this reputation by having a mission where the player hacks into Ubisoft San Francisco's offices to steal footage of a game trailer and sell it to gaming websites. And if that wasn't meta enough, cue gaming journalists in the real world reporting that the game in question was real, was called Pioneer, and was facing severe development problems.


The publisher has had a, shall we say, troubled history when it comes to PC gaming. Although their games generally come to the platform, coming a few weeks late at most, the ports are frequently...questionable, often being bogged down by Digital Rights Management (including a highly controversial always-online requirement in several games, such as Assassin's Creed II and Driver: San Francisco), poor optimisation, and being forced to run games through the fairly shoddy uPlay client, even when bought on other storefronts.

In recent years, Ubisoft has seen a pivot towards the (fairly nebulous) concept of "Games-as-a-service", which moves away from putting out numerous sequels to a game and more towards keeping one game updated over time and selling Downloadable Content and microtransactions for it. This model can be seen being used in games like Rainbow Six Siege, For Honor, and The Division series, and elements of the model have seen their way made into the Assassin's Creed and Far Cry series.

When it comes to any kind of new technology or market in the gaming sector, Ubisoft almost always dives in head-first - whether it's Nintendo putting out a console that comes with a tablet, Google announcing a service for streaming video games, or Oculus announcing a virtual reality headset that actually works, expect Ubisoft to be one of the big promoted names that's heavily supporting it. That said, don't always expect them to fully stick with it, as was infamously shown when Rayman Legends was turned into a multi-platform release after initially intended to be a Wii U exclusive.

Despite the Legends controversy, Ubisoft has maintained a strong relationship with Nintendo. Not only has Rayman appeared in Super Smash Bros. as a trophy/spirit, but Ubisoft developed their own Super Mario Bros. game - namely, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, a crossover with the Raving Rabbids franchise. The game was announced (after being leaked months prior, per Ubisoft tradition) with Shigeru Miyamoto coming out on stage at Ubisoft's E3 press conference. A year later, Starlink: Battle for Atlas would contain a myriad of Star Fox bonus content within the Nintendo Switch version.

In 2016, French mega-corporation Vivendi attempted a hostile takeover of Ubisoft by attempting to buy as much of its shares as possible. Despite many gaming pundits and analysts viewing the takeover as inevitable, in 2018 Ubisoft successfully fought it off, partly thanks to making smarter business decisions in the process and partly thanks to seeking out other investors, such as Tencent and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. (Yes, really.)

Ubisoft remains a fairly divisive publisher - their Strictly Formula game design, troubled relationship with the PC market, aggressive in-game monetisation, frequent always online-requirements, and overuse of the word "iconic" have all gathered them their fair share of detractors. (A rough patch early on in the eighth-console generation, where their games frequently launched in Obvious Beta status and with major visual downgrades from pre-release footage, didn't help.) Still, said open-world game design has plenty of fans, people appreciate the heavy amounts of post-launch support and content they give even their older games, and they generally give off the impression of being one of the better-run and better managed AAA publishers out there.

Since 2008, they have also owned visual effects company Hybride Technologies, and also had a hand in the films Avatar and Predators.


Games and franchises published/developed by Ubisoft:


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