The Vivendi Offensive

Discussion in 'GBAtemp & Scene News' started by endoverend, Jun 5, 2016.

  1. endoverend
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    endoverend AKA zooksman

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    250px-Vivendi_logo.svg.png

    No doubt you've heard of the dealings of Vivendi in recent months-- from its hostile takeover of Gameloft to its reported plans to absorb Ubisoft. You may find yourself wondering, who is Vivendi, why have I not heard of them, and why in the world do they want to take over Ubisoft? To answer these questions, it's best that we look back a little bit to explain Vivendi's origins in the industry.

    A (not so) brief history of Vivendi

    Vivendi_old_logo.gif
    Vivendi is a company based in Paris, France which finds its origins in the water industry. It didn't get the name "Vivendi" until 1998, when it started to expand into the telecommunications and media markets. Shaking off its roots in the water and waste industries, Vivendi began to expand and merge with many companies which dealt with broadcasting, film, and music. It had become quite a giant in these areas by 2000, having even merged with huge names like Universal Studios by its purchase of the huge corporation Seagram. Vivendi technically owned the rights to a lot of old games at the time, including PC classics like Half Life. However, in 2002, the company's over-expansion led it into crippling debt, forcing it to sell most of its media assets (7A) and center itself in the telecommunications industry.

    vivendiuniversal.png

    From the wreckage of Vivendi Universal Studios came the rise of a division called Vivendi Games, which had merged with Havas (which had merged with CUC International)-- Sierra Entertainment and Blizzard were famous examples of this group's subsidiaries. This small division of Vivendi's massive conglomerate wouldn't become well known until 2007, when it merged with Activision for $9.8 billion; this would allow the resulting subsidiary, Activision Blizzard, to become one of the largest publishers of the time.

    Activision_Blizzard_logo.png

    However, Vivendi decided to yet again sell off its less important assets and focus on its telecommunication subsidiaries. In 2013, Activison Blizzard used offshore funds to buy its independence from Vivendi for $8 billion; as a result, Vivendi sold the majority of its shares in Activision Blizzard, giving the company room to pay off debts and amass a nest egg. It reduced overall expansion and refocused its priorities.

    This nest egg, built up over three years, was by no means an insignificant sum. With these reserved funds, they returned to the gaming industry in October 2015 by buying stock in both Gameloft and Ubisoft (49). This was no coincidence, as Vivendi, Gameloft, and Ubisoft are all French companies. Furthermore, Ubisoft and Gameloft are both founded by brothers of the Guillemot family. At the time, no one really knew what their intentions were in acquiring those shares, but the purpose was soon to be revealed.

    151015-ubisoft-gameloft.jpg

    If you don't want the full history, skip here

    Out of the blue, Vivendi placed a bid on Gameloft valued at 610 million Euros. In a hostile takeover, this bid gained the support of Gameloft's shareholders on the 31st of May, allowing Vivendi to forcibly take control of the company. As a result, Gameloft's CEO, Michel Guillemot, is reportedly stepping down, and Vivendi has already sent a letter to Gameloft employees regarding the takeover.

    m_guillemot.jpg
    Michel Guillemot​

    What does this mean for Ubisoft? Well, in February of this year, Vivendi increased its stake in Ubisoft to 15%, and reportedly raised it again to 18%, which is greater than the Guillemot family's 15%. No doubt, Vivendi is looking to use the same method to perform a hostile takeover on Ubisoft, having so many shares in the company to begin with. Not to mention that Ubisoft's CEO is the brother of Michel Guillemot who stepped down after Gameloft's takeover. Ubisoft knows this is coming, and as such has reportedly began to rally up more shareholders in Canada to have better control over its assets.

    Most importantly, what does this mean for the consumer? Well, considering both Ubisoft and Gameloft will most likely be experiencing changes in leadership, expect changes in their content management. But also be on the lookout for Vivendi in the industry. Be wary of the giant conglomerate, as a company that large getting into the gaming industry doesn't just stop after a few takeovers. Such a hostile takeover is by no means common, and it takes a huge company to even be able to pull it off.

    Seeing as the whole situation is so confusing to begin with, I hope this article helped you understand at the very least the strangeness of the current happenings. Vivendi's history is interesting and it emphasizes how sudden and unexpected this takeover was and how scary the prospect of future endeavors is. Be on the lookout for this corporate giant.
     


  2. Vengenceonu

    Vengenceonu Revenge is beneath me but accidents do happen.

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    Plot Twist: Facebook and Microsoft each buy 18% of Ubisoft stock creating a stalemate, creating the world's first VR Assasian's Creed Minecraft.
     
  3. MarcusCarter

    MarcusCarter Goodra the Great

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    Are you saying Asians are asses? :tpi:

    In all seriousness though, aren't takeovers like this illegal in America or something? It would explain why they only targeted French companies.
     
  4. WiiUBricker

    WiiUBricker Insert Custom Title

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    Which notable games did Vivendi publish again?
     
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  5. MarcusCarter

    MarcusCarter Goodra the Great

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    None at the moment afaik, although they once owned Blizzard, so Heroes of the Storm (I think) was one at one point.

    Edit: Heroes of the Storm was released in 2015, and ActivisionBlizzard bought it's freedom from Vivendi in 2013, so I stand corrected. :/
     
    Last edited by MarcusCarter, Jun 5, 2016
  6. Xuman

    Xuman GBAtemp Fan

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    I'd rent it.
     
  7. MarcusCarter

    MarcusCarter Goodra the Great

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    This page says Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon are owned exclusively by Vivendi Games.
     
  8. Transdude1996

    Transdude1996 GBAtemp Regular

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    Here's a small list:
    http://www.ign.com/companies/vivendi-games

    Universal originally owned the IP, then Vivendi gained ownership after buying stock in Universal, then Activision Blizzard bought all gaming assets from Vivendi.
     
    Last edited by Transdude1996, Jun 5, 2016
  9. bowser

    bowser Mwa ha ha ha!

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    Didn't Vivendi publish Half Life? I remember seeing their name on the game disks of either Half Life or Half Life 2.
     
  10. KingVamp

    KingVamp Great... AETHER!

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    So, is this bad, good or neutral for us?
     
  11. endoverend
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    endoverend AKA zooksman

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    They had merged with Seagram (owner of Universal, Havas, and CUC International) which at the time technically held the rights to Half Life as well as a lot of other PC titles at the time. You'll see Vivendi's name on a lot of games of the time.

    — Posts automatically merged - Please don't double post! —

    It's too early to tell; Gameloft is small enough not to have many fans but Ubisoft is a different story. In general I'd say it's a bad thing for the consumer since huge conglomerates like this are less likely to focus on creating quality games and content and more likely to maximize profit in all things.
     
  12. dimmidice

    dimmidice GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    it's on the list that MarcusCarter linked.
     
  13. endoverend
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    endoverend AKA zooksman

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    You're absolutely right, French takeover laws had a lot to do with these purchases. Such a hostile takeover would be illegal in the United States but due to French laws regarding the ability of the majority stockholder, Vivendi was able to forcibly take hold of Gameloft.

    That doesn't stop Vivendi from entering the US market, however; there are other ways to amass companies, and Bolloré, the CEO of Vivendi, clearly has some master plan to become a name in the gaming industry.
     
  14. Ricken

    Ricken So long, and goodnite / So long, not goodnite

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    This will either be amusing or surprising
    *grabs popcorn*
     
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  15. Steena

    Steena GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Theoretically bad as a hostile takeover is never made with honorable pro-consumer intentions in mind. Then again, it's Ubisoft we're talking about, they already make soulless oversatured bland and copy-pasted games as is. At best, not that much will change for their big titles. At worst, they'll probably just axe their recent low budget projects like child of light and grow home, and will relocate those resources on maximum pay2win mobile games.
     
  16. Transdude1996

    Transdude1996 GBAtemp Regular

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    If that was the case, they probably would have stopped after buying Gameloft. Given how they're tackling a big fish like Ubisoft, I think something bigger is in store.
     
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  17. Abu_Senpai

    Abu_Senpai The Red King

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    Not personally a big Ubisoft fan. Gameloft made some great series though such as Asphalt and Gangstar.

    Could vivendi perhaps use ubisoft to enter the world of gaming again and make titles themselves.

    Personally unless they take on S.E or Sega or Take two i dont really mind. But then again ubisoft also made some nice games, not all the time but they have some good series at the very least.
     
  18. Lumstar

    Lumstar Princess

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    It's funny to see French telecommunications more desired by a company than Activision Blizzard.
     
  19. Swiftloke

    Swiftloke Hwaaaa!

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    I hope this hostile takeover doesn't mean that Gameloft will stop making good games (Asphalt anyone?) But it's hard not to face the facts: big companies don't care about consumers. (Looking at you, Comcast.)
     
  20. leon315

    leon315 POWERLIFTER

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    I hope vivendi forcely takeover FROMSOFT, just to force them to produce dark souls 4,5, or perhaps 6 :P