Toronto – In a just-concluded press conference held at the Isabel Bader Theatre, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, with an introduction by the Honourable Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, announced a 263 million dollar commitment and a 10 year partnership with Ubisoft to open a new development studio which will employ a staff of 800 people. Ubisoft’s net investment in the new studio will be over half a billion dollars in the new studio, which will begin operations in late 2009.
“Today’s announcement marks a strategic move for Ubisoft as we continue to expand our internal
development force,” said Yves Guillemot, president and chief executive officer at Ubisoft. “We are in an excellent position to grow and after extensive analysis we are thrilled to have reached an agreement with the government of Ontario to found our new studio in Toronto. The city is one of North America’s economic and cultural epicenters and our expectations are high. We’re excited to be able to count on the exceptional local talent, who will contribute to our accelerated growth and will have a profound impact on the video game industry with the excellence of their creativity.”
Three years in the making, Premier Dalton said that some of the primary reasons Ubisoft chose Toronto for their newest studio was the amazing talent, innovation, and ties to the movie industry enjoyed by Toronto’s creative industry. Collaborating with local film industry veterans to enhance video game production and extend Ubisoft’s convergence strategy, Ubisoft Toronto will contribute to Ubisoft’s global plan of extending its brands to complementary platforms and mediums, including books, comics, short films and other products.
Interestingly, the Premier chose a female high school gamer as his example of what Ubisoft Montreal/Toront CEO Yannis Mallat called Brain Gain. Premier Dalton pointed out that somewhere in the
province of Ontario, this female gamer would go on to attend an Ontario game development post-secondary educational programme, and she would then be able to work in the game development field not in the USA, but right in her home province. He further stated that the province of Ontario, currently ranked number 3 as a centre of development and innovation, believes strongly in investing in the Digital Media industry – one which supports a highly skilled, highly talented and highly paid workforce. He further pledged that if any digital media company wanted to grow their business and create jobs, then Ontario wants them.
After giving a brief background on Ubisoft’s many Canadian-developed game franchises such as the Tom Clancy titles, Assassin’s Creed, Farcry 2, Shaun White’s Snowboarding and more, which have collectively sold more than 60 million units, Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat shared that the new Toronto studio will be modeled on the development approach used at Ubisoft Montreal. Mr. Mallat will also serve as the CEO of Ubisoft Toronto. He further stated that this step in Ubisoft’s business development could not have happened without the leadership of Premier McGuinty and the inspiring commitment of his cabinet and staff. He further stated that “We are incredibly excited to finally tap into the remarkable talent Ontario has been developing over the years. Toronto’s unique pool of experience video game industry and film industry talent will allow us to develop a team with exceptional ability to help us realize our goals for creating brands with universal appeal that extend beyond the world of video games.”
With studios now located across Canada in Vancouver, Montreal, Quebec City and now Toronto, Mr. Mallat sees a future of even better game products developed with the talent and skills of Canadians, and with its development force growing from the current 2 300 creative people to over 3 000, Ubisoft will work towards instilling a climate of Brain Gain, not the Brain Drain which has been known to happen in the technology sectors in Canada.