Over the past few years, more and more video game studios have been acquired by larger entities. This trend of smaller companies being consumed by larger ones has been prevalent for the past few years, with the peak being Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, announced in January of 2022. That same month saw Take-Two acquire the mobile developer Zynga and the acquisition of Bungie by Sony.
Since then, speculation has been rife with regards to which company will be the next to be acquired. In the summer of 2022, Embracer Group acquired Square Enix’s Western studios, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos-Montréal. In the months since then, it has been rumoured that Sony have had meetings with Square Enix regarding the purchase of their Japanese studios. There has also been speculation around companies like EA and Take-Two being acquired.
There is also a very good chance that an acquisition of Ubisoft could be imminent.
After stating that they have cancelled three previously unannounced games, during a recent investor’s call, Ubisoft also announced that Skull And Bones would receive yet another delay; now aiming for a 2023 to 2024 release. This inevitably caused Ubisoft’s stock price to drop significantly, hitting depths not seen since 2015.
Historically, large corporations take the opportunity to swoop in and gobble up smaller entities in their darkest hour. Microsoft purchased Bethesda in the midst of the Fallout 76 backlash. They made their deal with Activision during (still unresolved) sexual misconduct claims. Thus, right now is the perfect time for Microsoft, Sony or Amazon to capitalise on Ubisoft’s recent misfortune.
Consolidation is rarely a good thing for the consumer, but what real alternative is there at this point? Ubisoft is a company in possession of multiple valuable properties which have been mismanaged for years now.
In the recent earning report, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot lays the blame on recent failures such as Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope and Just Dance 2023. However, this seems like an oversimplification of the issues that Ubisoft games has had for a while.
IP such as Ghost Recon, Far Cry, Watch Dogs, and The Division all seem like shadows of their former selves. The planned future of Assassin’s Creed seems extremely scattershot. Nobody really knows what is happening with Beyond Good & Evil 2, the Prince Of Persia remake, or the Splinter Cell reboot. Whilst these are all desirable IP, the recent handling of them has not been great, to say the least.
The potential to own every title under the Tom Clancy umbrella, or to have the keys to highly anticipated revisits to classic franchises such as Splinter Cell and Prince Of Persia would surely have companies like Microsoft and Sony salivating. Regardless of who it ends up being, a takeover of Ubisoft and their IP is looking more and more likely by the day.
Via his Twitter account, industry insider Jeff Grubb claimed that Ubisoft had already shopped the possibility of a merger or acquisition to larger corporations, ‘and it mostly got laughed at.’ However, it is undeniable that Ubisoft still own the rights to many lucrative franchise names. Eating the initial loss of projects like Skull And Bones and Beyond Good & Evil 2 would likely be a worthwhile investment for a company like Microsoft, if it meant reaping the benefits of the Tom Clancy games in the long run.
Even if an acquisition deal doesn’t get announced by the time that E3 2023 rolls around, it would be frankly shocking if Ubisoft was still an independent company by the end of 2023. At this point it feels like the once great publisher’s only option is coming to come sort of a merger agreement if they want to avoid complete extinction.
By reader Daniel Boyd
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