We catch-up with one of the world's leading studios

CANADA SPECIAL: Ubisoft Montreal

Number of staff: 2,000
Year founded: 1997
Previous projects: Assassin’s Creed, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Far Cry, Prince of Persia, Shaun White, Avatar: The Game

Ubisoft Montreal is effectively the daddy of all games studios – not just in Canada, but globally, given its huge size and stature.

One of the largest production houses in the world, it is similarly famous for some of the publisher’s biggest hits – including the likes of Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed.

Develop spoke to CEO Yannis Mallat, who since 2006 has overseen the team’s huge expansion – plus Ubisoft’s growth into other Canadian territories, and its many collaborations with educators in the region – to find
out more…

What would you say are Ubisoft Montreal’s biggest milestone achievements?
That is a tough question. There have been a few milestone achievements and there will be many more to come we believe.

Looking back, we can’t answer this without mentioning the release of the first Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. Definitely, this was the beginning of it all, and not only for us in the studio but also, for the gaming industry in Montreal.

This game generated a lot of attention and it was as if all the eyes of the industry had suddenly turned to Montreal and realised the potential and the talent that was here.

Obviously, this release was followed by Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, the Rainbow Sixes, the Far Crys and the first Assassin’s Creed.

Finally, we also believe that we are about to reach another milestone achievement with the release this fall of Assassin’s Creed II, Avatar : The Game, Shaun White World Stage and the Assassin’s Creed Lineage films.

What makes Canada a great place to develop games?
Canada is a great country, period. It’s a great business end creative environment to work in. There are a lot factors combined that have had an impact on our industry’s growth. If the Provincial Governments have been extremely dedicated in investing to develop this industry in Quebec and in Ontario, it’s probably the proximity of the US west coast that has been a key-factor in Vancouver’s key development.

The strength of the university and college network has also played a huge role in the development of the Canadian video game industry. Finally, there must be something in the snow or the water that makes Canadians very creative!

What about your studio makes it a great place to work?
Globally, Ubisoft is really dedicated in creating working atmosphere that are positive. It might sound like a stereotype, but happy employees are more creative. And that’s what we are trying to build in all of our studios.

Specifically for Montreal, we believe our main strengths reside in the projects that we are developing. Working on triple-A franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia, Rainbow Six, Splinter Cell, Far Cry, and Shaun White is extremely stimulating we believe.

On top of that you have to add all of the benefits that range from fresh fruits to bagels, the gym, the medical clinic, child day care and so on.

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