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Ubisoft Financials Show Record Percentage Of Digital Revenue

During a financial call for the first fiscal quarter ending on June 30, Ubisoft touted sales that exceeded expectations, high digital sales, and increased engagement levels with titles like The Division.

Sales were at €139 million, up from the target of €125, with a record amount of digital sales. Digital revenue accounted for 75 percent (at €104.8 million) as compared to 56 percent last year, including "recurring player investment" in the form of DLC, season passes, etc. to the tune of €47.9 million – an increase of 113.8 percent. Ubisoft praised the player engagement level for titles like Rainbow Six Siege and The Division. Monthly active users in general were up 53 percent as compared to last year. The Crew was also singled out, particularly because it's been out since late 2014.

Ubisoft's €139 million in sales for the quarter is up 44 percent from the same period last year. Also rising were back-catalog sales, which increased by 36.3 percent year-on-year.

The company projects second-quarter sales at about €100 million, with a full year expectation for 2016-2017 at about €1,700 million.

According to Ubisoft, these first-quarter numbers make it the leading North American and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) publisher for the first six months of calendar 2016.

 

Our Take
Ubisoft mentioned its two new board directors, but did not address Vivendi's attempted hostile takeover.

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How Do You Pronounce Ubisoft? However The Heck You Want

Over the years, gamers have debated a number of things. Nintendo versus Sega was hot in the 80s and 90s. PlayStation vs. Xbox has taken over in recent years. But Ubisoft vs. Ubisoft? That one’s been waging for decades.

In an adorable new video, Ubisoft asked its employees how to pronounce the name of the company for which they work. You’d think there would be a unified answer. You’d be wrong.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

In fact, there isn’t even a correct answer according to CEO Yves Guillemot. Though, we hazard that those opting for “U.B.I. Soft” might be in the minority.

Ubisoft is currently facing a fight for its independence as Vivendi makes moves toward a hostile takeover. It’s interesting to see the publisher maintain its sense of humor and good spirit even through trying times.

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Former Ubisoft film exec forms new studio for video game films

Jean-Julien Baronnet, who oversaw production on the Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell films, will now aim to adapt other video games for the big screen. …


Gamasutra News

Ubisoft expands board of directors to combat Vivendi influence

Ubisoft is looking to shield itself from the growing influence of French media conglomerate, Vivendi, by filling out its board of directors with two new independent directors.  …


Gamasutra News

Ubisoft Will Give You Trials Of The Blood Dragon If You Perform Well In The Demo

You’ve probably gotten complacent thanks to Xbox Live Games with Gold, PlayStation Plus, and EA Origin On The House. It wasn’t always this easy to get free games. No, we used to have to work for them.

Beginning on July 22, those that download the demo on PC will have the chance to win the full the game. All you need to do is complete the entire demo with fewer than 15 faults. 

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Announced at E3 2016, Trials of the Blood Dragon mashes up RedLynx’s high-flying stunt driving and the absurd Far Cry: Blood Dragon spinoff. You can check it out in our Test Chamber to learn more.

 

Our Take
This won’t be an easy challenge to accomplish, and we’ve reached out to Ubisoft to inquire if players can take multiple shots at winning a free copy. Given my experience with past Trials games, even that will likely take some doing.

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Ubisoft Offers Discounted Stock To Employees

Ubisoft is currently in a battle for its independence. French company Vivendi has been slowly purchasing more of the publisher’s stock, increasing its control in hopes of securing a board of directors seat this fall.

In order to protect itself from hostile takeover, Ubisoft has a few different options at its disposal. We’ve covered many of them in our extensive explainer on the ongoing situation.

Recently, the Assassin’s Creed publisher has invited employees to invest more in the company with an incentivized stock offer. Employees can purchase shares from the company treasury at a 15 percent discount. 

The company will match their purchases one-to-one up to €1,000. Employees can invest up to 25 percent of their gross annual salary. The shares on offer are capped at three percent of the company’s capital as of April 19.

Of note, the shares and their respective voting rights will be held and exercised by the supervisory board of the mutual fund through which they are purchased. This will last for a period of five years, called a "lock-up period," during which time the shares may not be traded or sold. In other words, as more employees buy in for financial purposes, corporate leadership will increase its hold on their votes.

At the end of the five years, the employees can cash out or transfer funds to another Ubisoft mutual fund. All shares in the mutual fund will be sold at that time.

"Our intention with these programs is to give employees an opportunity to be more closely linked to our development and future performance," an Ubisoft representative told us. "With employees representing a bigger share of our capital they will have a bigger say in decisions taken by the company and will be even more invested in the company’s long term success."

While the initial offer was for non-U.S. qualifying employees, Ubisoft today announced a similar program for those in the States. There are some differences, particularly in the amount that staff can invest. Here in the U.S., the limit is decidedly lower at 2.5 percent of annual gross salary. Both plans draw from the same pool amounting to three percent of Ubisoft shares.

 

Our Take
This tactic not only allows Ubisoft’s executive body to grow its control, but it galvanizes staff. Given the publisher’s success, it’s unlikely that many employees would want to see the company taken over by Vivendi. The discounted shares and five-year return on principal and company match (as well as interest) make this a good deal for everyone involved.

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Vivendi Ups Ubisoft Ownership Just Days After E3

With its takeover of Gameloft nearly complete, Vivendi is wasting no time pushing ahead with its creeping control of Ubisoft. A new stock purchase puts the former Activision owner in control of 20.1 percent of Ubi shares. 

Vivendi and its supervisory board chairman Vincent Bolloré have made their interest in an Ubisoft board seat known. With a general shareholders meeting in September, Ubisoft has a hard fight ahead.

There is a limit to how much Ubisoft stock Vivendi can buy, though. French law dictates that once a shareholder controls 30 percent of a company, they must tender an offer, something Vivendi has said it has no interest in doing. The company reiterated that it doesn't plan to make a move for at least the next six months, which will spill the fight until at least the September 2017 shareholders meeting.

However, not all is lost. Vivendi’s Gameloft takeover was possible in part because of that target’s localized presence in France. Ubisoft, however, is a multinational firm.

Vivendi apparently leaned heavily on its relationships in France, but won’t have the same sway with institutional investors, like Blackrock and Fidelity that aren’t as accessible to Bolloré. Additionally, Ubisoft has a strong employee group that owns stock and likely has no interest in seeing company CEO Yves Guillemot ousted.

Last week, Guillemot also told CNBC it would be interested in exploring a partnership. This is different than the White Knight scenario mentioned in our explainer, as it would be a meeting of equals rather than an acquisition of the Assassin’s Creed publisher.

A merger could come from the gaming world or another entertainment company, as Ubisoft has entered the movie and television business. The company could also take additional investment from an institutional investor.

We’ve reached out to Ubisoft about the latest stock buy. We’ll update should there be a new statement.

[Source: Bloomberg]

 

Our Take
It’s clear that there is reason for Ubisoft to be concerned, but the situation here is much different than the one that Gameloft faced. The two companies, while founded by the same family, have different profiles that give Ubisoft a fighting chance.

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Ubisoft Confirms Star Trek VR Game In The Works, Will Show Off At E3 Presser

Today Ubisoft made known its plans to boldly go into VR with Star Trek. Called Star Trek: Bridge Crew, the game is being developed by Red Storm Entertainment, known for its work on the Tom Clancy franchise.

The VR experience takes place in the Abrams' Star Trek universe and allows four players to board the starship Aegis and assume the role of captain, tactical, engineering, or helm officer. You must explore an uncharted sector of space called The Trench to find a suitable new home for the population of Vulcan. Fans will remember this planet was destroyed in the 2009 movie, Star Trek.

You use a VR headset along with hand controllers. The game replicates your head and hand motions, allowing you to scan for foreign objects, activate the warp drive, and display relevant imagery on the ship's viewscreen. You also must work with your team during combat and exploration, making decisions on how you want to approach situations and what the best course of action is. Red Storm creative director David Votypka teased to ABC News, "Is it more important to save the Vulcan scientists or rescue everyone on the planet? It might be too difficult to do both. It's just like the show. There's not any one right answer."

Ubisoft tweeted on its official account that it will show off Star Trek: Bridge Crew at its E3 press conference on Monday, which you can watch right with us at 1 p.m. Pacific / 4 p.m. Eastern.

Bridge Crew launches on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR this fall, so at least it won't be too long until you board the Aegis and live out your own Star Trek fantasy. 

 

[Source: Ubisoft, ABC News]

Our Take
I already like the sound of having some choice in how you approach situations and working as a team. It might be hard to get a group of four together, but we'll have to wait for Ubisoft's upcoming press conference for more details. Until then, this looks like one of the more promising VR projects that's been announced. Star Trek fans should be excited.  

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After 18 years, Ubisoft Casablanca is closing up shop

Of all the Ubisoft studios, in all the towns, in all the world, Ubisoft Casablanca will be shut down on June 13th – a few months after its 18th birthday. …


Gamasutra News

Ubisoft Starts Issuing The Division Permabans For First-Time Cheaters

Apparently, a two-week ban for cheating hasn’t been enough to dissuade some Division players. Ubisoft is stepping up its efforts, and has announced that it will start handing out permanent bans on first offense.

Last month, the publisher “took action” against 30,000 accounts, dishing out approximately 3,800 permanent bans. Additional waves of bans are coming, and Ubisoft will announce when they’ve happened.

The company says that it is seeing improvement in the game as cheaters are removed from the population. “We are committed to constantly improve your experience in the game, and this begins with ensuring a positive and fair environment free of noxious players willingly violating the rules,” the company says. “We will take all steps necessary to track down cheaters and make sure they cannot spoil your enjoyment of the game.”

[Source: Ubisoft]

 

Our Take
As the video game industry transitions from a product model to one that is more akin to service, customer support needs to change. Publishers will always have to fight against those willing to cheat, but as developers get more used to how players interact with live games, perhaps we’ll see better up-front enforcement. Zero tolerance works, provided there aren’t false positives that impact rule-abiding players.

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