MONTREAL - Ubisoft is expanding its video game operations in Quebec to meet changing technologies and jobs within the industry, saying the company will boost its workforce in the province by 500 to more than 3,500 by 2020.
Known for such games as "Assassin's Creed," Ubisoft will concentrate its North American operations for online games in Montreal, involving a $373-million investment over seven years. The Quebec government will provide the Paris-based company with $9.9 million as well as tax credit adjustments.
Provincial Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau said Monday that Quebec was competing with other jurisdictions for Ubisoft's expansion.
"The video game sector places Quebec as a world leader and Ubisoft is the key player in this," Marceau told a news conference. "There's no price for that, it's extremely valuable."
The Quebec government adjusted multimedia tax credits to cover new jobs now considered "essential" to the industry, such as network management specialists, mathematicians, telemetry experts, systems operators, business intelligence analysts and interactive marketing specialists.
It removed the three-year limit on the tax credit, saying the length of the credit would depend on the project. The tax credit covers 37.5 per cent of the salaries of employees deemed admissible for the credit.
"We want to change the criteria that's dictated by the industry's reality," Marceau said. "Previously, the industry produced a game and then almost everything stopped. Now it's different and in real time."
Last year, tax credits covering the video game industry cost Quebec taxpayers $128 million, but Marceau couldn't say what the impact of expanding the tax credits would have on the province's finances. The Quebec government has been instrumental with tax breaks and subsidies to develop the industry, but other provinces such as British Columbia and Ontario also offer tax credits for the video game industry.
Electronic Arts, Warner Brothers Games and Eidos also operate video game studios in Montreal.
Ubisoft noted the arrival of next-generation gaming consoles, the expansion of mobile platforms and Internet-based playing with multiple players are helping to transform the video game industry. In addition, video games are often updated either to expand them or to fix problems.
Ubisoft also said it also will expand its expertise in motion capture technology, which makes action look realistic.
The company's Canadian CEO, Yannis Mallat, said new employees are expected to be hired quickly with most of them from Quebec.
Ubisoft, which operates in 29 countries, set up in Quebec in 1997 with the help of tax incentives.
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