July 3, 2012 Update: Ubisoft's boss moves up five placements to reflect a very successful E3, with impressive showings of out-of-nowhere Watch Dogs, some Wii U games that outshined many of Nintendo's own, an impressive demo of Assassin's Creed III and an all-around awesome press conference.
Feb 20, 2012 Update: The confirmation of Assassin's Creed III for October 2012 is not enough to bump Guillemot up, and a partnership with Japanese mobile phone power player GREE—which is making inroads to the West later this year—is probably better for GREE now than it is for Ubi. We'll see.
People who work for Ubisoft know that their company is a little weird. Ubi is a large corporation that acts as if it is an artist's collective—pay no attention to all those sequels they like to churn out. They are a quirky outfit and not one to be trifled with under the leadership of their long-standing boss Yves Guillemot, who helped start the company 25 years ago.
Ubisoft boasts massive development studios in France, Canada and China and an enviable knack for making hits. One year, they're creating Assassin's Creed, the most successful new high-definition franchise of this generation, give or take Gears of War; two years later, Just Dance comes out of nowhere and becomes one of the hottest series on any platform, even outselling most of Nintendo's best on the Wii. Guillemot has managed to run a powerhouse publisher that is willing to take countless creative risks, but he routinely flirts with disaster, supporting risky experiments that flop and testing the limits of mass-produced quality by throwing hundreds of developers on annualized sequels.
Ubi's best strengths are its numerous brands, ranging from Rayman to Trackmania to Assassin's Creed to Splinter Cell and the rest of the Clancyverse. His company also often finds a way to thrive on new platforms, putting the ever-experimental Ubi in a prime spot to capitalize on the launch of the Wii U in 2012.