Ubisoft dev fears 'constraints that kill creativity' if Vivendi takes over
"Obviously [concern about a potential takeover] has struck us at some point. We are a company that has been creating and has been leading through independence and that is something that is key to our success, key to the way we are organized."
- Xavier Poix, managing director of Ubisoft's French studios, speaking to Polygon.
Over the past year French media conglomerate Vivendi has more than doubled its stake in French video game firm Ubisoft. This week that stake surpassed 25 percent, and if it climbs past 30 percent French law requires Vivendi to attempt a takeover.
This could have a significant impact on the company, and developers who have been following Vivendi's moves may appreciate hearing what some of Ubisoft's staffers are saying about their potential future under Vivendi's control.
"What comes with losing our independence, we do not want that," Xavier Poix, managing director of Ubisoft's French studios, told Polygon in a recent interview. "When we look at all the first-party publishers in the world, none of them is dependent on a media group, and when it was the case in the past [those first-party publishers] were usually either sold or closed. We don't want that to happen."
Polygon was reportedly in France to cover Ubisoft's upcoming game Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands, but when the topic of conversation shifted to the threat of a Vivendi takeover Poix said it's not the big-budget projects like Wildlands that he's worried about; it's the smaller projects, like Ubisoft Montpellier's 2014 game Valiant Hearts: The Great War.
"The way we created Valiant Hearts, a game about the First World War, for instance, was really something that was a gamble. It was not an expensive game, but it was a controlled bet," said Poix. "These bets that we have taken, it is something that we need. In order to be very creative you need to have constraints, but you don't want to have constraints that kill creativity. I think independence is there to bring us this good background."
He is, of course, echoing public statements made by Ubisoft chief Yves Guillemot this summer, when he stood up on stage at the end of Ubisoft's E3 2016 press conference and stressed how highly the company values its independence.
Vivendi, for its part, long ago laid out a "strategic vision" for taking control of Ubisoft and Gameloft (which it did this summer) and uniting them under its aegis. You can find the rest of Poix's comments on the topic in Polygon's full article.