Eidos execs on how shared tech supports global growth

Eidos execs on how shared tech supports global growth
Michael French

By Michael French

December 13th 2007 at 3:45PM

Britsoft firm plans next step for its studios with ambitious plans to share Crystal Dynamics and IO tech across the company

Two weeks ago we revealed that Eidos Montreal was using the Crystal Dynamics next-gen game engine to build its new title, Deus Ex 3 - however, that's just one part of a bigger movement throughout Eidos to share its internal technology across all its studios.

Speaking to Develop, Jane Cavanagh, CEO of Eidos owner SCi, has said that the company is eyeing a potential studio in China, as well as more potential sites in Canada, as the British publisher looks to further expand its production capacity – with a key emphasis on shared technology.

The comments come as the publisher celebrates the success of its Canadian studio in Montreal, Quebec, which is already one of the biggest companies in the region and is hoping to boast a headcount of 200 staff in the next few months.

“We’re looking at China,” said Cavanagh. “We have a couple of people who have gone to start a hub out there, predominantly to increase what we’re doing in terms of outsourcing, and to partner up with the existing studios. Over a period of time we’ll either increase our presence through existing partnerships or open up our own studios.”

She added: “As far as other places in Canada are concerned, we would consider it. At the minute, what Quebec offers is head and shoulders above what anywhere else in Canada, let alone the rest of the world, is offering. As far as we’re concerned, we’re quite happy to scale up what we’re doing there.”

On how the Montreal base might expand, she explained: “As far as Montreal is concerned, we plan to expand on the existing infrastructure that we already have. We have the option to take more space there as we grow organically. At the moment they’re working on one project, but we can get them up to three or four simultaneous projects with reasonable ease.”

But key to any expansion, Cavanagh said, was the company’s new approach towards sharing the technology from its staple studios Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics and Hitman and Kane & Lynch creators IO Interactive.

“The studio in Montreal which we shall be expanding over the coming months is really up to speed on the Crystal Dynamics engine, which powers Tomb Raider,” she explained.

“The intention is that if we open further studios in cost-effective locations, we could drop in either the Crystal or the IO Glacier engines. That means they’re immediately able to share technology and asset libraries on a global scale.”

It’s a long-idealised strategy that many other larger companies have so far failed to implement – different tech used across the EA empire being one well-known case (although Codemasters thinks it has cracked the issue too with its new EGO engine) – but Eidos seems confident it can build a growing production resource around unified tech.

The company currently boasts studios in a variety of locations around the world, but said its focus is on expanding plans around cost-effective locations.

With Budapest and Canada sewn up, it makes sense for Eidos to look further afield to China, especially given how the firm has structured its production processes, explained Phil Rogers, Eidos’ corporate developments boss – and it’s clear the company has a keen, bullish approach towards potential acquisitions.

“These areas have real occupational scale. Great example is that studios are general – 10 years ago they worked in a very serial fashion,” he explained. “With our strong technology backbone, our studios can now work in parallel across multi-IPs centered around one studio. We can work with studios in different locations, work with outsource groups and really accelerate that production pipeline.”

Additional reporting by Tim Ingham. This story originally appeared in issue 79 of Develop. To download a free PDF of the magazine, click here.