CANADA SPECIAL: Audiokinetic

CANADA SPECIAL: Audiokinetic
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

November 19th 2009 at 3:59PM

We turn to the studio behind Wwise for our second Canadian tech profile


Number of staff: 21
Year founded: 2000
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Previous projects:  Wwise, Wwise Motion, SoundSeed Impact
www.audiokinetic.com

Audiokinetic is well known to a lot of developers for its Wwise audio engine, which has been used in over 150 games to this date.

But not only has it produced a well-rounded real-time engine, the company’s focus on the editing environment has been so well received that it left its main competitor, FMOD, scrambling to catch up. The focus on decoupling the work of the audio designer and the audio programmer tapped into a real desire within the industry.

The company was founded in 2000 by a group of veterans in the music, film and gaming industries, who realised that if games were to feature better audio they needed more professional tools.

It released Wwise in 2006, after which Microsoft Game Studios quickly signed up for a long-standing licence agreement – and the rest is history. In more recent times, it’s continued to innovate, releasing the cutting-edge SoundSeed Impact – the first of a long line of planned SoundSeed titles – which brings generative audio into real-time situations, ensuring that one-shot sounds never appear the same.

But all of this might not have been possible in such a short time without the support that Quebec provides for games-related companies.

“The tax credits really helped at the beginning,” says Karine Legeron, marketing and communications manager at Audiokinetic. “I think that, if they hadn’t been available, we probably would have started with a smaller team. We receive tax credits on the research and development accomplished by our development team. Being based in Montreal, we benefit from both the federal and the provincial tax credit programs, which certainly helps.”

The company also benefits greatly from the impressive educational establishments in the region and their efforts towards inclusive games courses.

“In Montreal alone, there are four major universities and several specialised schools teaching classes related to video game development, which is really useful for a growing technology company. As a company providing solutions for game developers, we also benefit from the presence of other middleware companies like Autodesk, Quazal, and Softimage.”

And while the company is hard at work on even bigger and better things – more audio processing, more third-party integrations, says Legeron – it’s not ashamed to look back at its accomplishments.

“We had this vision over eight years ago, and having more than 150 games adopt Wwise in the three years since its launch is quite an achievement. It was a fantasy back then, and people thought we were dreamers, but now we can see that the game development community is ready for it!”