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Ubisoft prowls for hundreds of workers; Government grant helps push employment National Post's Financial Post & FP
Investing (Canada) March 12, 2015 Thursday

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National Post's Financial Post & FP Investing (Canada)
March 12, 2015 Thursday
National Edition

Ubisoft prowls for hundreds of workers; Government grant helps push

BYLINE: Christina Pellegrini, Financial Post
LENGTH: 822 words
Five years after France-based Ubisoft Entertainment SA opened the doors to its Toronto studio, the video game maker is
gearing up to go on another hiring spree in Ontario's capital.
The first took place during its early years, when Ubisoft ballooned its staff from just four people in early 2010 to 250 by
the spring of 2012, relocating 20 people from its flagship Canadian studio in Montreal and recruiting the rest, to design,
create and finally release Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist in August 2013.
Since then, the outlet has added another hundred employees - and local brass doesn't plan to stop there.
While the broader economy braces for tame growth, Ubisoft aspires to more than double its Toronto workforce to 800
by 2020, assuring that it won't just stay in the city but it hopes to thrive here, too.
"We're really proud of what we did in the last five years," Alex Parizeau, the managing director at Ubisoft Toronto and
one of the studio's Montreal transplants, said in an interview. In addition to leading the development of Blacklist, which
has fallen short of Ubisoft's sales targets despite being lauded by critics, the Toronto office supported the creation of
two other games, Assassin's Creed Unity and Far Cry 4. "We've got a ton of stuff planned for the next five [years], but
we need the best people," Mr. Parizeau said.
Currently, more than 90% of the studio's 350 employees contribute directly to the gamemaking process in roles such as
animator, designer, programmer and audio engineer. The others are in support positions.
It strives to preserve the 90:10 ratio during each growth spurt, a quest that has taken its recruiters to far-flung places and
yielded a diverse staff which speaks at least 35 different native languages. While Mr. Parizeau estimates one-third of its
employees are foreign workers, he says many end up settling in the city, adding that "a lot of people are going through
the P.R. (Permanent Residence) process right now."
The rate of expansion will depend on workflow, Mr. Parizeau says. He declined to comment on upcoming releases, but
did say the studio's contributions to Far Cry 4 "went so well that it established us as a really big partner on the Far Cry
brand going forward." Still, the game maker is not without a lucrative incentive to continue bulking up its workforce and to do so sooner rather than later.
In 2009, the Ontario government courted Ubisoft to set up shop in the province by pledging a grant of up to $263
million over 10 years until 2020. Funds aren't stashed in a company bank account or doled out evenly each year: Money
is disbursed only after Ubisoft presents proof of eligible spending, says Andrew Forgione, a spokesman for the Ontario
Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. Also, the agreement, which subjects the studio to
regular financial inspections, excludes the company from claiming the Ontario Interactive Digital Media tax credits
during the decade.

Ubisoft prowls for hundreds of workers; Government grant helps push employment National Post's Financial Post & FP
Investing (Canada) March 12, 2015 Thursday
In an emailed statement, Mr. Forgione said the grant "supports a total investment of
$806 million by Ubisoft," adding that the company is "progressing well" so far and is "on track" to meet its hiring goal.
To do so, Mr. Parizeau is relying heavily on deepening talent pools of students from local game-design programs.
"Now that we have people in place who know the culture at the studio, who are driving the projects that we have here in
development, we're able to target more junior people," Mr. Parizeau said. "All the partnerships we've done with
universities [are] going to start to bear fruit in the second phase of growth."
One of these alliances is with Oakville, Ont.-based Sheridan College, which welcomed the first cohort of students into
its new four-year Bachelor of Game Design program in September 2013. Ubisoft Toronto employees have helped craft
the curriculum,
some have hosted master classes in animation and a handful currently sit on the school's professional advisory board,
among other initiatives.
"The relationship between the college and Ubisoft is one of mutual benefit," says Angela Stukator, the associate dean of
animation and game design in the Bachelor of Animation, Arts and Design. "They've been so involved in the
development of the program so students are job-ready."
Students will get the chance to put their skills to work before they graduate, as the school is finalizing co-op placement
programs with a number of local studios, including Ubisoft, says Ms. Stukator.
Whether Ubisoft brings aboard new grads or poaches skilled workers from other sectors, the firm's success will depend
on how well it hires, trains and retains a savvy, robust staff.
"The business is driven by creating a talent pool inside your studio that is here for the long term," said Mr. Parizeau. "If
you have the best people, you make the best games." !@COPYRIGHT= 2015 Postmedia Network Inc. All rights
LOAD-DATE: March 12, 2015
GRAPHIC: Laura Pedersen, National Post Files; Alex Parizeau, managing director at Ubisoft Toronto, hopes to have
800 staffers working for him by 2020.;
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