Montreal is quickly becoming a hotbed for refined video game development. The products that Ubisoft's Montreal team has pumped out in recent times (e.g. Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia, Rainbow Six 3, and more) are a testament to the considerable talent and hard work of game makers in Canada.
EA, Quebec government give EAM boost
Not content to let Ubisoft dominate the fast-growing development scene in Montreal, Electronic Arts has announced that it will invest $2.6 million in a three-year training program that will "provide its growing workforce of game makers at EA Montreal (EAM) with the technical and creative skills they need to stay on the cutting-edge as they develop the next-generation of interactive entertainment." Current and future EAM employees should benefit from this initiative.
EA has major operations in British Columbia, and in 2003 the company opened a Montreal studio that currently employs about 100 people. Several hundred more employees are expected to join the Montreal operation over the course of the next few years.
According to Michelle Courchesne, Quebec Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, there are approximately 2,000 people working in the interactive entertainment industry in and around Montreal. Courchesne also announced that the Quebec government, via Emploi Quebec, would donate $660,000 toward the EA Montreal initiative. Although that figure pales in comparison to the $4 million the Canadian government recently gave to Ubisoft Montreal to help it become "the largest interactive entertainment studio in Montreal," EA as the leading video game publisher certainly does not need the assistance as much.
Planning for the future
EA Montreal's training program is still being fleshed out, but its curriculum is expected to feature courses in performance technology, graphics, engineering, and project and people management. The classes will also be accompanied by a lecture series, which will include visits from creative leaders at EA as well as speakers from the film, music, comic book, computer animation and engineering industries. The program is open to all full-time EAM employees and is meant to give them "the creative inspiration and technical tools they need to grow their careers and embolden their contributions to their current projects."
"The key to unlocking the business potential of the industry is simple: great games. Great games will propel the industry forward. The craftspeople who build the games must be creatively energized and have an expertise in cutting-edge technology," commented Alain Tascan, Vice President and General Manager of EAM. "We are planning for the future by investing in our studio talent today. Education and training are key components of EA's long-term growth strategy. We are making the necessary financial investments that will empower our game makers and help us stay ahead in this competitive market."
Tascan also was encouraged by the support of the Quebec government and thanked them for their contribution. "We welcome the Quebec government's vision for the game development community in Montreal and applaud their recognition of the importance of supporting local talent within this growing industry. EA is proud to be a part of the infrastructure that encourages creativity in this City," he said.
EAM is currently working on SSX on Tour for the PSP and "another brand new original franchise which will be announced in the coming months." EAM also noted that it's "ahead of schedule and is on track to add new franchises and teams with an average team size of 80 to 100 people."