Ubisoft Entertainment (formerly Ubi Soft) is a computer game and video game developer with headquarters in Montreuil, Seine-Saint-Denis, France. The company has facilities in over 20 countries, including development studios in Montreal, Canada; Barcelona, Spain; Shanghai, China; North Carolina, USA; DÃ¼sseldorf, Germany; and Milan, Italy, amongst other locations. As of 2004, it is the third-largest independent video game publisher in Europe, and the seventh largest in the United States of America. The "Ubi" in Ubisoft is sometimes pronounced [jubi] or more often [u'bi], however in French it is pronounced [y'bi]. Ubisoft's mascot is Rayman.
The five brothers of the Guillemot family founded Ubisoft as a computer game publisher in 1986 in France. Yves Guillemot soon made deals with Electronic Arts, Sierra On-Line, and Microprose to distribute their games in France. By the end of the decade, Ubisoft began expanding to other markets, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
In the early 1990s, Ubisoft initiated its in-house game development program which led to the 1994 opening of a studio in Montreuil, France, which later became their headquarters. That same year, Michel Ancel created the Rayman character, a character which still stars in new video games as of 2014. Ubisoft became a publicly traded company in 1996 and continued to expand to offices around the globe, opening locations in Shanghai and Montreal.
In 2000, Ubisoft acquired US-based Red Storm Entertainment, the game development studio founded by techno-spy novelist Tom Clancy, already famous in its own right for games based on Clancy's books. In 2001, the company purchased Blue Byte Software, known for the Settlers series. By 2003, Ubisoft reported operations in 22 countries, nine of those containing production or design offices. Ubisoft had a number of successful and award-winning games that year, including Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, XIII, Rayman 3, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield and Beyond Good and Evil.
Ubisoft's revenue for 2002-2003 was euro|â‚¬453 million; for fiscal year 2003-2004, this grew to â‚¬508 million. As of 2004, Ubisoft employs more than 2,350 people, of which over 1700 are classed as working in production. Yves Guillemot, a founding brother, is the chairman and chief executive officer|CEO.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ubisoft committed itself to online games by getting behind Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, The Matrix Online, and the European and China|Chinese operation of EverQuest. The publisher established ubi.com as its online division. But in February 2004, Ubisoft cancelled the online portion of Uru and backed out of the publishing deal on The Matrix Online. Regardless, only a week later the company announced its acquisition of Wolfpack Studios, developers of fantasy MMORPG Shadowbane, and in July 2004, its Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow was released for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 with what some considered a revolutionary online multiplayer feature.
On December 20, 2004 Electronic Arts (EA) purchased a 19.9% stake in the firm. At the time, Ubisoft released a statement saying they considered the purchase "hostile" until they had further information on EA's intent.
Ubisoft is known to use Starforce copy protection that installs drivers on a system and is suspected to cause problems with some hardware and compatibility issues with certain operating systems, starting with the game Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory which as of the time of writing (February 2nd 2006) is not compatible with Windows XP Professional x64 Edition On the 14th of April 2006 Ubisoft confirmed that they will stop using Starforce on their games citing complaints from the customers.1