Ever wonder how game developer and publisher Ubisoft manages to survive in a market dominated by the Electronic Arts and Konamis of the world? Business 2.0 did, and there's an interesting profile of the France-based company in this month's issue of the magazine (reading it online requires a subscription to the magazine, unfortunately). It includes a few things I was unaware of, such as how management once assigned development of a racing game to a Shanghai-based studio where the employees did not know how to drive and how the company first opened for business in a rented European castle.
Each studio, regardless of locale, operates according to the same creative credo. It starts with a collaborative environment where a team of 80 or 90 employees, including managers, work together in a single "war room" to create a game's core technology. The collaboration extends between studios too. For Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, a game produced in Montreal, the core software came from a studio in the French Alps, while the top programmer in Canada was on loan from Ubisoft Shanghai.
Ubisoft's goal is to launch three new properties every two years in an effort to combat companies such as Electronic Arts, where most development time and effort is spent on sequels to licensed properties and revisions of the same football game year after year. What lies ahead for Ubisoft? Let's just say that Russian developers may want to start preparing job applications.