'Developers are a footloose bunch' says Toronto-based senior reporter

Ubisoft Toronto deal sparks scepticism

Ubisoft’s newest venture in Toronto is dangerous and damaging to the city’s troubled economy, according to a local senior reporter at news group The Globe and Mail.

Marcus Gee’s column compares Ubisoft’s new Toronto deal – funded by a CA$263 million grant – to a string of forward-looking govt investments which have fallen short of expectations.

His point is that Toronto’s govt tends to back the wrong horse.

“Recently, the ‘creative’ industries have been in vogue. Remember the [CA]$6-million that Toronto and the province put up for the Lord of the Rings musical? It flopped,” he wrote.

The editorial goes on to mention “that subsidy sponge”, the auto industry. “We all know how that turned out,” he added, perhaps unfairly for an inevitable frontline victim of an unprecedented global recession.

Ubisoft and Toronto Premier Dalton McGuinty stated that the new Toronto studio would create some 800 jobs over 10 years, yet Gee points out the cyclical nature of game development and game studios:

“Ubisoft executives say they are in love with Toronto and promise to spend CA$500-million of the company’s own money here, which is awfully big of them. But game developers are a footloose bunch, jumping from place to place in search of talent and government handouts.

“Many of those new-media types now active in Canada were lured here from Europe. Britain’s industry is steaming over Canada’s talent piracy and the British government is considering tax measures to lure developers back.

“Who is to say they won’t jump across the pond when the tax picture changes. Or when currency-exchange rates make Canada less desirable. Or when all that government money helps inflate salaries for the creative people that game developers need.”

Develop’s coverage of the Toronto Ubisoft deal can be found here.

Gee’s column was found through a GamePolitics report.

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