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Ubisoft Entertainment (formerly Ubi Soft) is a French computer and video game publisher and developer with headquarters in Montreuil-sous-Bois, France. The company has facilities in over 20 countries, including development studios in Montreal and Québec City, Quebec, Canada; Barcelona, Spain; Shanghai, China; North Carolina, USA; Düsseldorf, Germany; Sofia, Bulgaria; Bucharest, Romania; Casablanca, Morocco and Milan, Italy, amongst other locations.
As of 2004, it was the third-largest independent video game publisher in Europe, and the seventh largest in the United States. Ubisoft's revenue for 2002-2003 was €453 million; for fiscal year 2003-2004, this grew to €508 million. As of 2005, Ubisoft employed more than 3,500 people, of which over 1,700 are classed as working in production. The company's largest development studio is Ubisoft Montreal, which in 2004 employed approximately 1,600 people. Yves Guillemot, a founding brother, was the chairman and CEO.
The correct pronunciation of the company name is you-be-soft, though it is also commonly mispronounced oo-be-soft.
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. Ubisoft became a publicly traded company in 1996 and continued to expand to offices around the globe, opening locations in Shanghai and Montreal.
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 Chinese operation of EverQuest. The publisher established ubi.com as its online division. However, in February 2004, Ubisoft cancelled the online portion of Uru and backed out of the publishing deal on The Matrix Online. Nevertheless, a mere week later, the company announced its acquisition of Wolfpack Studios, developer of Shadowbane.
In December 2004, a rival game corporation Electronic Arts purchased a 19.9% stake in the firm, an action Ubisoft referred to as "hostile" on EA's part.
In March 2005, Ubisoft acquired part of MC2-Microïds (Microïds Canada) and integrated it into their Ubisoft Montreal.
In July 2006 Ubisoft also bought the Driver franchise from Atari for a sum of €19 million (USD$24 million) in cash for the franchise, technology rights, and most asset. Additionally, though Ubisoft is not acquiring the studio outright, the members of Driver developer Reflections Interactive became employees of Ubisoft. As a result, Reflections Interactive was subsequently renamed Ubisoft Reflections.
On April 11, 2007, Ubisoft announced that it had acquired German game developer Sunflowers, followed by an acquisition of Japanese developer Digital Kids that November.