Video game giant Ubisoft to open Winnipeg office

Ubisoft will invest $35M in Manitoba, create 100 jobs over 5 years, company says

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Ubisoft is the publisher of the Assassin's Creed video game franchise. (Ubisoft)

Video game giant Ubisoft is coming to Winnipeg.

The France-based company, best known for its Assassin’s Creed series, announced Friday morning that it plans to open an office in the city this fall.

The worldwide company plans to invest $35 million in Manitoba and said the new studio will create 100 new jobs over the next five years.

“With its thriving local techno-creative industry and innovative university and college programs that combine creative arts, IT and computer science, Winnipeg is truly a hidden gem for talent in the video game industry,” said Darryl Long, a 15-year veteran at Ubisoft who will be managing director of the Winnipeg studio, in a news release.

On its website, Ubisoft says it has the largest in-house development staff in the industry, employing more than 12,000 people.

The firm already has more than 30 studios in 18 countries, including offices in Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax.

The company employs 4,500 people in Canada.

The firm is known for publishing several acclaimed video game franchises, including Far CryJust DancePrince of PersiaRayman and a series of games based on the work of author Tom Clancy.

The new office will work on AAA games — an informal classification indicating the blockbusters of the game-design world, Long said. Starting Friday, it will recruit engineers, tools programmers, technical artists and other specialists to work on “world-building” aspects of game design, he added.

“This is where the importance of a strong talent pipeline comes into play, and this is where Winnipeg and Manitoba have an undisputed head start,” Long said.

He pointed to university and college programs that offer the “perfect mix” of creative arts, IT and computer science, and said the firm expects to attract former Manitobans who left home to work in the industry elsewhere.

The company hasn’t settled on a location for its Winnipeg office yet, Long said.

Move in the works for 2 years

Friday’s news conference was also attended by Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and Economic Development Winnipeg president Dayna Spiring.

Spiring said the move has been in the works for roughly two years.

“This is a huge win for Winnipeg,” she said in the news release.

Pedersen said the new office is evidence of Manitoba’s successful efforts to develop its tech pool. In its 2018 budget delivered last month, the Progressive Conservative government committed to maintaining the NDP’s interactive digital media tax credit, which provides a fully refundable income tax credit to companies that develop interactive digital media products.

“We’re going to keep working together to grow our local tech pool. We’ve made great progress in Manitoba and today’s a shining example of that,” he said.

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