Following last week's announcement from major publisher and developer Eidos (Tomb Raider franchise) of a new development outpost in Montreal, Québec, Gamasutra caught up with the studio's new managing director, Stéphane D’Astous to discuss detailed plans for the new studio.
The original announcement from Eidos revealed that the newly revealed Eidos Montreal would work on next-gen titles, creating 350 jobs within the next 3 years, but did not specify what exact games the studio might be working on.
When asked whether existing or original IP was the plan for Eidos Montreal, the exec explained: “While original IP is certainly a possibility, and is something we will consider further down the line, the first project we are working on is an existing IP."
D'Astous added: "That said, this is a major IP that we're going to be doing. We're not ready to announce the specifics yet, mainly because we have not discussed this with our board. But rest assured, it will be major." He would not disclose whether the project will be an internal Eidos IP or a licensed external one.
Explaining Eidos Montreal's overall strategy, D'Astous explained: “Our focus and strategy is not to be the biggest, but rather to do what we do best. We are not a studio that wants to do everything, and be a jack of all trades. We want to focus on our purpose, which is developing AAA next-gen titles, with smaller teams, and longer production schedules.”
Precise development platforms have not been locked down, but Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 seem like a likely initial bet for the studio. While the Eidos Montreal head could not confirm this, he noted that “...the studio will not develop for current gen platforms or portables.” He further expressed possible interest in Eidos Montreal developing for the Wii and PC in the longer-term.
As for studio size, D'Astous indicated that the studio will swiftly ramp up to 110 employees, including a single development team composed of around 70 people. Another similarly sized team will be added in 2008, with another the year after that, making the eventual target three full-sized production teams.
Finally, when quizzed over Ubisoft Montreal's notorious non-compete clauses, D'Astous, who is a former Ubisoft executive, didn't comment on specifics regarding hiring other personnel for Eidos Montreal, but revealed: "When I left Ubisoft, it was part of a mutual agreement. And since it was mutual for all parties, the clause was dropped."