Features

30 in 30: Ubisoft Montreal

Masters of handsome princes, covert stealth ops and assassins

Ubisoft's Montreal studio was initially meant to be a small, subsidiary operation tasked with developing low-profile kids' games to take some of the heat off the main Paris studio.

It was relegated to titles like the video game classic Donald Duck: Goin' Quackers until 2000, when it started work on a stealth game based on the popular Tom Clancy novels that would become Tom Clancy: Splinter Cell. Since then, the company's been a serious player, churning out great game after great game including the Assassin's Creed series, Prince of Persia and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas.

Zoom

Montreal was chosen as a location because the Quebec government made Ubisoft an offer it could not refuse -- $25,000 investment in the company for every local person it employed. Ubisoft bought up an abandoned textile factory in the run-down Mile End district and turned it into their HQ - simultaneously turning around the fortunes of the neighbourhood.

Many other companies followed suit, opening studios in places like Montreal or Toronto, enticed by the Canadian government's policy of offering funds and tax breaks to video game and other digital media developers that set up shop on Canadian soil.

By 2013, if all goes well, Ubisoft Montreal looks set to be the biggest game studio in the world. It just seems to keep getting bigger and bigger, currently employing some 3,000 employees with plans to bring in another 1,400. After that, they probably intend to build a secret underground lair and take over the world.

OVERVIEW

Founded: 1997
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Killer Quote: "The thing is that any game development, in my opinion, should focus on making sure that the technology that is behind the game is actually seen as a tool, a means for developers to express their own meaning, their own message." - Yannis Mallat

KEY PEOPLE

Yannis Mallat

Zoom

Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat took over the post in April 2006 when Martin Tremblay departed the company. He's had an eclectic career, which has included spending three years in Africa working in humanitarian aid and also a Master's degree in Agronomy and Economic Development.

He joined Ubisoft Montreal in 2000 as a producer, putting his talents to use on games including Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Rayman Advance.

Perhaps it's his background that gives him a unique way of looking at things - he believes that games should be emotional experiences first and that all the window-dressing like great graphics, AI and technology are just a means to that end.

Mathieu Ferland

Zoom

Senior Producer Mathieu Ferland is best known for creating the Tom Clancy Splinter Cell series, which essentially put Ubisoft Montreal on the map. He's worked on every major Splinter Cell game since, along with being responsible for the first Assassin's Creed. He's a creative genius that isn't afraid to reinvent things completely.

In his personal life, he's a sporty kind of chap, enjoying skiing, swimming and mountain biking. He's been playing hockey since his school days. Before working at Ubisoft Montreal in 1997, he spent two years in Morocco, where he says he's proud of creating the very first game made in Africa.

  1 2
  Next

Comments