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Ubisoft investing $505M to build up Toronto studio

Ubisoft investing $505M to build up Toronto studio

May 2, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

May 2, 2012 | By Eric Caoili
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Ubisoft wants to replicate the success of its Montreal branch with its Toronto studio, and it plans to invest $500 million CAD ($505 million) and quadruple the office's headcount to 800+ employees to get there.

The Montreal branch, which the publisher is using as a model for the Toronto arm, is one of the largest game studios in the world with some 2,100 employees. It's also responsible for the Assassin's Creed and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell series.

Founded in 2009, the Toronto studio is working on the next Splinter Cell game. Right now it has around 210 programmers and designers, but it intends to expand the team to more than 800 over the next ten years, according to a report from Canadian business newspaper Financial Post.

Similar to how Ubisoft brought in veterans from its Parisian headquarters to help set up the Montreal office 15 years ago, the company has moved a number of Montreal workers to Toronto -- including managing director Jade Raymond -- to make sure the studio is filled with veteran talent that can mentor younger employees.

"We are, in a way, applying the same recipe," said Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat. "We've been sending over experienced, senior people from Ubisoft Montreal as a guarantee that they immediately get traction and speed and knowledge in place so that they can recruit the best people. You can't hope to have a studio up and running in one year by just hiring junior people."

Ubisoft is receiving a lot of help from Ontario's government to build this studio in the province's capital, as the publisher was promised $263 million CAD ($266 million) over the course of ten years to set up the Toronto branch in 2009. The company's also able to take advantage of local tax credits to save on labor costs.

Many other big publishers and developers have branches in Toronto, including Zynga, Rockstar, Disney Interactive Studios, and Capcom. The city is also home to indie studios like Capybara Games and DrinkBox Studios.

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