Montreal devs 'too influenced by foreign firms'

Montreal devs 'too influenced by foreign firms'

By Rob Crossley

November 3rd 2011 at 3:48PM

New fund initiative could offer local indies as much as CA$3 million

The thriving Montreal games development scene is under too much control from foreign-owned companies, the founder of EA Montreal has said.

Industry figurehead Alain Tascan said more native companies need to thrive in Canada’s games development capital, and is backing a new investment platform for ‘home-grown’ indie start-ups.

“All the profit leaves the country”, Tascan said in an interview with The Montreal Gazette.

"All management decisions are made in head offices outside of the country, so all the innovation is happening there."

In 2004, Tascan himself opened EA Montreal – one of the world’s biggest game studios with as many as 900 staff. But that’s dwarfed by Ubisoft Montreal, which Tascan also founded, and is  believed to employ some 2,500 workers. Eidos Montreal, meanwhile, wants to employ as many as 700 developers.
 
These so-called ‘mega-studios’ are controlled by companies outside Canada, however.

Ubisoft’s head office is in Paris, and EA is headquartered in California, while Eidos is owned by Tokyo outfit Square Enix.

Now consultancy group Perimeter Partners is raising funds to put together an accelerator program for promising independent studios. The fund hopes to raise CA$2 to $3 million, which would support 16 new small gaming studios within a year.

"I believe we need a new era to create balance between big, foreign-owned studios and new, independent game development," said Tascan, who is set to speak at the Montreal International Game Summit today.