Microsoft acquires Activision Blizzard. Take-Two Interactive buys Zynga. Sony buys Bungie. Embracer Group buys, well, everything. Amid a wave of mass gaming industry consolidation, it’s no surprise shareholders quizzed Ubisoft executives today during the company’s third quarter earnings call. publisher about its own interest in making its own major acquisitions or being acquired. But Ubisoft management maintains, at least publicly, an air of disinterest for now.
It’s clear the publisher knew the issue would be on shareholders’ minds, as it tried to pre-empt the discussion in its own earnings report with some kind of one-page manifesto extolling the virtues of growth. organic. You can read the whole thing here on page 3, but in summary, Ubisoft wants shareholders to see it as a company that manages to slow its growth over time, as opposed to a company that spends a lot of money buying up other companies. As proof, he points to what he’s built over the years doing just that: his library of IPs like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Tom Clancy games, and more, as well as various proprietary technologies and, rather ironically , its corporate culture and its organizational structure.
Notably, most of this has been accomplished without Ubisoft really needing to acquire other big companies, although it’s certainly been done too, albeit on a much smaller scale than what’s called for. Investors. In recent years, Ubisoft has taken over mobile publisher Green Panda Games, Brawlhalla developer Blue Mammoth, anti-cheat developer GameBlocks, mobile developer Kolibri Games, server company i3D.net, and several others.
But that’s not really what we’re talking about here. As the publisher points out, Ubisoft has become both highly valuable and highly successful on its own, a notable triumph after the long battle between Ubisoft and Vivendi not too long ago. Its discussion of organic growth can be taken to mean that the publisher is comfortable not doing much in the way of massive acquisitions anytime soon, so we probably won’t see Ubisoft trying to take on Take-Two. or something like that tomorrow.
But of course, all this talk about Ubisoft’s value and success prompted a different kind of questions from investors on the call. As one of them pointed out about 12 minutes later, if Ubisoft’s assets are so highly valued right now, isn’t it the perfect time to sell the company to someone? ‘other ?
CEO Yves Guillemot responded with a somewhat cautious declaration of independence:
“Ubisoft can remain independent…our IP addresses are sought after by the world’s biggest entertainment and tech players,” he said. “Having said that, if there was a takeover offer, the board would of course consider it in the interest of all stakeholders.”
There are two things to note here. The first is that this is a pretty standard statement for any leader when asked this question. Acquisition talks, especially for companies like this, happen all the time, and more often than not they go nowhere. But we never hear about it until the deal is done due to a number of legal prohibitions aimed at preventing financial speculation from running wild, among other reasons. Just about any business executive, then, when asked if their business could be acquired at some point, has to walk a tightrope of “Maybe, also maybe not” to avoid both to make definitive statements but also outright lies.
But it’s somewhat remarkable that this is a softer response than Guillemot might have given, especially given Ubisoft’s history with Vivendi and struggle with acquisitions. Considering how forcefully Ubisoft pushed back against a potential takeover just four years ago, even a slight crack in the company’s CEO acquisition door is worth noting.
Every Ubisoft game in development