Ubisoft, 15 years of success in Greater Montréal

Ubisoft set up in Greater Montréal 15 years ago. The combination of targeted incentives and creative talent enabled the Ubisoft studio to become a calling card in Greater Montréal, while at the same time attracting other major players from the video game sector and turning the city into the world capital of video game development. We have presented hereunder a brief analysis of the arrival and the development of this video game giant in Greater Montréal.

In 1997, Ubisoft wanted to enter the North American market. The Guillemot brothers, who were Ubisoft’s directors in France, hesitated between the Boston area, New Brunswick and Québec. They finally chose Greater Montréal for its unique business climate. According to Yannis Mallat, the CEO of Ubisoft Montréal, “Ubisoft very early on saw Montréal as a future place of growth for videogames. There were actually some players in the industry, such as Softimage, that were already here, and also Montréal has good universities. The Québec government was quick to foresee here was an industry that could grow in Québec, so they actually facilitate the establishment of studios. In Québec, though people are North American people, there is a certain amount of European culture, so it’s always about creativity. The people are talented creators, but they also know what a blockbuster is.”[1].

To attract Ubisoft to Montréal, the governments of Québec and Canada at the time understood they had to take part in the project by offering various forms of government assistance. “Anybody you talk to within the industry in Québec will tell you that the incentives that were put together 14, 15 years ago are one of the keys of why the industry is so successful here in Montréal,” said Cédric Orvoine, Communications Director for Ubisoft Montréal and Toronto.”[2].

At the outset, it was predicted that the studio would have 560 employees in late 2002 and that their numbers could possibly reach 800 in 2007. Today, Ubisoft has more than 2,000 employees, accounting for one-third of the video game industry in Québec. Although incentives put up by the governments did help the company and the industry to grow, one must not overlook the importance of the workforce, pointed out Yannis Mallat. “One of the big things that kept us here is the tremendous creative talent in Montréal. Without it, I don’t think the industry in Québec would have developed as it has.”[3].

More information on the video game industry in Greater Montréal is available at the following link, Profile of the information and communication technologies industry in Greater Montréal developed by Montréal International. Profil des technologies de l’information et des communications développé par Montréal International.

[1] Quoted from: The French-Canadian Connection: A Q&A With Yannis Mallat, Ubisoft Montreal by Mathew Kumar on, en October 2012.

[2] Quoted from Video game subsidy battle heats up by Emily Chung on, October 2012.

[3] Quoted from Médias: L’ALD et les nouvelles on, October 2012. Translation.

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