Opinion: Vivendi needs to stop

The Never Vivending Story…

Before I get started on my long-winded tangent down below, let me go over the basic events that inspired it. Vivendi is currently trying to decide if a Ubisoft takeover is even worth it. I’ve always assumed, like most sane individuals, that it was only a matter of time before it swallowed Ubisoft up whole, but, apparently, there’s still a glimmer of hope left for the French publisher to get out of this without too much more of a fight. Vivendi is, reportedly, in the process of figuring out whether it should buy in or sell out of its shares in the company. I sincerely hope that it takes the latter approach.

Currently, Vivendi has already obtained a 26% stake in the company. According to Bloomberg, its voting rights will double soon, and it’ll have an opportunity to reach upwards of 30% ownership. At that point, French law dictates that the big V would be forced to make an official bid for a takeover. It’s already been shot down once by Ubisoft management recently when seeking a board seat, so it seems the publisher is ready to fight this to the end.

This isn’t Vivendi’s first rodeo either. After owning a controlling stake in Activision Blizzard, it eventually sold its shares for a combined total of approximately $9.3 billion. That’s also around the same time that it started knocking at Ubisoft’s front door. 

Brett reported, back in April, that Vivendi may lose interest if stock costs rose too high, and Ubisoft’s prices have increased by around 70% over the past year. That’s certainly a worthwhile incentive to cash out while the getting’s good. I imagine those numbers have been bolstered substantially by the recent success of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.

In an interview with FortuneYves Guillemot, the CEO of Ubisoft, stated:

“What we feel is that they are financial guys. Our best defense has been to perform. When you perform, you can show your shareholders that it’s better for them to stick with the team that’s managing the company instead of going to another. What we’ve seen is that our shareholders are very happy with the direction we’re taking, so it gives Vivendi less space to do a creeping control.”

Regardless of how much it sounds like the name of a bad, late ’80s goth band, creeping control is the act of gaining control of a company a little bit at a time all sneaky like. That’s pretty much Vivendi’s m.o. at this point. To tell the truth, I just want it to stay the hell away from my video games. This kind of behavior comes across as gross and parasitic. (“It rubs the lotion on its skin…”)

Ubisoft gets a lot of shit these days. It may fuck up pretty often, but it’s done a whole lot of good for this industry too. The last two main entries in the Rayman franchise were phenomenal. I know it’s easy to rag on Ubisoft for its propensity to create open world games with tower mechanics and more recent failures like the original Watch Dogs.

On the other hand, however, the publisher also brought us The Stick of Truth, Outland, Beyond Good and Evil, Valiant Hearts, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Splinter Cell: Conviction, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. Honestly, even Assassin’s Creed II was pretty damn great before the franchise was milked out of any semblance of credibility by smothering us with yearly installments which varied drastically in terms of quality.

If a soulless corporation like Vivendi takes over Ubisoft, say goodbye to the good stuff, and get ready for Assassin’s Creed 27: With Arms Wide Open Edition because all it cares about is its bottom line. That’s right, money. Vivendi will be butt-rocking its way straight to the bank and never look back. It doesn’t give two fucks about how we feel.

Ubisoft is far from perfect, but it’s also a breeding ground for some of the most low-key, outstanding experiences to ever hit consoles. Maybe the products aren’t necessarily “generation defining,” but it’s managed to bring something unique to the table occasionally. If Vivendi ever does succeed in buying it out, I can guarantee you that people are going to miss Ubisoft when it’s gone.

Vivendi reportedly unsure whether to take over Ubisoft or sell shares [IGN]

About The Author
Kevin Mersereau
I like video games, music, comics, and corgis a whole lot. Pretty much everything I do in my free time revolves around these four things...
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