In March 1986, five brothers of the Guillemot family founded the video game publisher, Ubisoft, in Carentoir, a small village located in the Morbihan department of the Brittany region, 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. They entered the video game distribution and wholesale markets, and by 1993 they had become the largest distributor of video games in France.
In the early 1990s, Ubisoft initiated its in-house game development program, which led to the 1994 opening of a studio in Montreuil, France. It later became their administrative and commercial head office, even as the company continues to register its headquarters in Rennes. Ubisoft became a publicly traded company in 1996 and continued its expansion around the globe, opening locations in Annecy (1996), Shanghai (1996), Montreal (1997), and Milan (1998).
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ubisoft committed itself to online games by supporting Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, The Matrix Online, and the European and Chinese operation of EverQuest. The publisher established an online division. However, in February 2004, Ubisoft cancelled the online portion of Uru and backed out of the publishing deal on The Matrix Online.
In March 2001, Gores Technology Group sold The Learning Company's entertainment division (which includes games originally published by Brøderbund, Mattel, Mindscape and Strategic Simulations, Inc.) to them. The sale included the rights to intellectual properties such as the Myst and Prince of Persia series. In July 2006, Ubisoft bought the Driver franchise from Atari for a sum of €19 million in cash for the franchise, technology rights, and most assets. In July 2008, Ubisoft made the acquisition of Hybride Technologies, a Piedmont-based studio renowned for its expertise in the creation of visual effects for cinema, television and advertising. In November 2008, Ubisoft acquired Massive Entertainment from Activision. In January 2013, Ubisoft acquired South Park: The Stick of Truth from THQ for $3.265 million.
In 2008, Ubisoft sued Optical Experts Manufacturing (OEM), a DVD duplication company for $25 million plus damages for the leak and distribution of the PC version of Assassin's Creed. The lawsuit claims that OEM did not take proper measures to protect its product as stated in its contract with Ubisoft. The complaint also alleges that OEM admitted to all the problems in the complaint.
In April 2012, Ubisoft was sued by the author of the book Link, John L. Beiswenger, who alleged a copyright infringement for using his ideas in the Assassin's Creed franchise and demanding $5.25 million in damages and wanted to stop the release of Assassin's Creed III that was set to be released in October 2012 along with any future games that allegedly contain his ideas.On 30 May 2012, Beiswenger dropped the lawsuit. Beiswenger was later quoted as saying he believes "authors should vigorously defend their rights in their creative works", and suggested that Ubisoft's motion to block future lawsuits from Beiswenger hints at their guilt.
In December 2014, Ubisoft offered a free game from their catalog of recently released titles to compensate the season pass owners of Assassin's Creed Unity due to its buggy launch. The terms offered with the free game revoked the user's right to sue Ubisoft for releasing an unfinished product