Ubisoft Is a Rare “Design-Driven Company” Led by Gamers, Developers Say

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Dec 22, 2016
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This year, Ubisoft is celebrating its 30th anniversary and it did so by giving away several games and goodies. GamesIndustry had the rare opportunity to get a few of Ubisoft’s key creators together for a roundtable interview on the company’s culture and future.

It’s an article well worth reading, with a few highlights worth pointing out. Jonathan Morin, Creative Director at Ubisoft Montreal for Watch Dogs and Watch Dogs 2, said:

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Ubisoft is a design-driven company. As a creative director I am imputable to Serge Hascoet and the editorial team. And they tend to push us and evaluate our work from a design stand point first. This is very rare since most companies would have guys like me be evaluated by business people. Of course we remain business-aware within the company but the content of our games is driven by design more than anything else. It is this approach that helps us make a difference.

Martin Oliver, Producer at Ubisoft Reflections for The Crew and other games, echoed his colleague’s sentiment with the following words:

We are very fortunate to be led by gamers, the Guillemot brothers. For them, cool ideas are priority. They empower the teams to approach every phase of development with the confidence that no matter how ambitious or unconventional the ideas are they will be appreciated.

In both cases, they’re pointing out at the uniqueness of Ubisoft’s “gamer culture” in comparison to other companies. This seems hardly a coincidence, considering the ongoing struggle against Vivendi’s threat of hostile takeover; just over a week ago, Vivendi upped their stake in Ubisoft again to 25.15% of the shares.

Ubisoft employees seem to be united in the purpose of defending the current leadership. A little less than a month ago, VP of live operations Anne Blondel said:

The thought I have is that I have been [here], with Ubisoft, for 20 years, and I know what made us so successful for 30 years, is being super independent, being very autonomous. [On] sales, well sometimes we take a lot of risk, you think about The Crew, that was a risk. People would look at that like, ‘maybe it’s not going to work, another racing game, what are you thinking?’ Child of Light, Valiant Hearts, all those kinds of titles.

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I think that’s what makes Ubisoft so different, and personally speaking, I think this is what we are. This is what we want to remain, it’s what has made us successful and been able to deliver the type of games we’ve been delivering for 30 years.

So far so good, I would say, because gamers are still [with us] and I know for a fact, having been there for 20 years, that if you [separate] us from our independence, if you take away the way we like taking risk and inventing new stuff, well it’s not going to be the same Ubisoft – for me, it wouldn’t be the same.

Would you rather have the Guillemot brothers still at the helm or not as the company goes forward? Tell us in the comments.

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