With Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard (to add to Zenimax Media and the many other studios and publishers Microsoft owns), Take-Two buying Zynga, Embracer Group buying Gearbox Entertainment, and Sony buying Bungie (with Sony CEO Jim Ryan saying to expect more of the same), it’s been a season of consolidation in the videogame industry. According to a report by Bloomberg, Ubisoft could be next.
“Several private equity firms including Blackstone Inc. and KKR & Co. have been studying the French business,” according to Bloomberg’s anonymous sources, who also said, “Ubisoft hasn’t entered into any serious negotiations with potential acquirers, and it’s unclear whether its major shareholder is willing to pursue a deal”.
This report’s veracity was backed up by Kotaku, whose sources among Ubisoft developers, both current and former, claimed that “the company will eventually sell to someone amid a flagging stock price and ongoing production struggles.”
The publisher of Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry certainly has problems—according to an Axios report from December, Ubisoft has shed employees at an alarming rate thanks to low pay, issues with its creative direction, better opportunities elsewhere, and widespread workplace abuse. Recently, a Ubisoft employee group called out company leadership for failing to address those issues. But being taken over by a private equity firm, which could lay off employees and push the French publisher even further into trend-chasing cynicism than its unsuccessful dabbling in NFTs, wouldn’t be much of an improvement.
Yesterday Ubisoft officially announced Project Q, a multiplayer shooter that is currently in early development. It then had to follow-up the announcement on Twitter with replies explaining that, no, it’s not a battle royale, and no, there are no plans to add NFTs.
In 2016, Ubisoft managed to head off a hostile takeover by Vivendi, which eventually sold the last of its shares in 2019.