Raymond: Toronto studio has â??future techâ?? group

Raymond: Toronto studio has â??future techâ?? group

By Rob Crossley

August 9th 2010 at 8:00AM

But is the dormant giant, which will eventually hold 800 devs, working on next-gen tech?

The managing director of newborn mega-studio Ubisoft Toronto has revealed the group is assembling a new technology division – one that could possibly be building a next generation game engine.

“I can’t talk too much about it,” Jade Raymond told Develop, “but I will say that Toronto has a technology group, building central tech for Ubisoft, and that’s going to be the team that starts looking towards the future. Real cutting-edge stuff.”

She said that the Toronto studio – which has a ten year plan to grow from 50 staff to 800 – is in “an interesting strategic position” with its long-term view to the future.

Raymond couldn’t elaborate on the matter but all facts point to Toronto building a successor to the acclaimed Anvil engine – the platform behind blockbusters such as Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia.

Anvil itself was developed by Raymond’s previous team at Ubisoft Montreal, before she and core members of the outfit moved to Toronto.

Various game industry execs are beginning to openly discuss the next generation of game consoles. Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida recently told Develop that the company is undergoing “future platform related activities”, while Nintendo president Satoru Iwata recently confirmed development of a Wii successor.

And Murray Pannel, Ubisoft’s UK head of marketing, recently said he “assumes [there will be] a new transition into new consoles probably in the next two to three years.”

Yet one year ago his boss beat him to it. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot in April 2009 was the first key industry exec to talk seriously about the next generation.

Before the publisher announced the new Toronto studio, Guillemot told investors “we need to get ready for the future generation of consoles. In the next few years there will be new home and handheld consoles and if you don't invest you will not be able to cope.”

Raymond and the CA$750 million Toronto studio may be seen a key proponent in that next-gen investment plan.

In a wide-ranging interview with Develop, Raymond said the studio is setting up a “three-prong” strategy.

“First we want people to grow with our mentor programme, making us known as the best place to fast-track your career,” she said.

“Secondly, we want to ship great triple-A projects from the start.

“But there’s a third plan, which is looking out to the future.”