French videogame developer Ubisoft is planning a major expansion of its studios in Montreal, the company announced on Monday.
Ubisoft is planning to spend $373 million over the next seven years to expand its motion capture technology and consolidate its North American operations in Quebec.
“The expertise found at Ubisoft’s Quebec studios is at the heart of the group’s growth and success for over 16 years,” Ubisoft Montreal and Toronto CEO Yannis Mallat said in a statement. “To this established and recognized know-how, we add new needs in terms of infrastructures and online operations, in anticipation of the new experiences players expect.”
The company says the investment will create 500 jobs in Quebec, including “non-traditional” occupations for the industry such as “community and network management specialists, business intelligence analysts, mathematicians, telemetry experts, systems operators, and monetization and interactive marketing specialists.”
The expansion is receiving strong support from the Quebec government. The province is giving the company a $9.9 million grant and making changes to a provincial tax credit program for multimedia developers.
Under the changes, companies will be able to claim tax credits for production work throughout the life of an online game. Developers were previously only able to claim the credit for production work for a 36-month period.
Developers will also be able to claim credits for a wider variety of activities, under the new changes, including the development of online infrastructure along with community management and support for online titles.
“It is time to adapt this tax measure to the business model of this innovative industry,” Quebec’s Minister of Finance, Nicolas Marceau said in a French-language statement. “Today, the new market is online games, accessible from everywhere and on all platforms. So, new types of activates will be eligible for the tax credit. As well, the maximum period for development work that is admissible for tax credit is abolished, to reflect the continuous nature of these new games.”
In addition to Marceau, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois was also on-hand for the announcement.
This is the third time Ubisoft has expanded its Montreal studios since setting up shop in the city in 1997. The company says that with the new expansion, it expects to have 3,500 staff in Quebec by 2020.
According to Ubisoft, Montreal is now one of the top-three game development hubs in the world, after Tokyo and Los Angeles.