Ubisoft Toronto Shoots for 'Five' Triple-A Titles, Hopes to Entice Developers with Ambitious Plan

Start-up studio Ubisoft Toronto has already been given the lofty goal of taking the popular Splinter Cell franchise into its next installment; however, studio boss Jade Raymond has even bigger plans for the new development house.

Speaking with Develop, Raymond said Ubisoft Toronto push her team to expand its workload from two "major" triple-A titles to five over the next decade. "I can't say specifics now," Raymond said. "We don't want to get ahead of ourselves in our first year. But yeah, that's the plan." Along with Splinter Cell, Ubisoft Toronto is developing a second unnamed title.

Raymond claimed the studio hopes to expand its workforce to 800 employees over the same timeline, echoing statements made by the Ontario provincial government and Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat, last year.

Aggressive expansion is a common goal for Ubisoft. In an interview I conducted with Ubisoft Montreal boss Yannis Mallat following the announcement of a Ubisoft studio opening in Toronto, the CEO outlined Ubisoft Montreal's own plan to expand its studio to 3,000 employees from 2007 to 2015. "We need, as a company on the whole, to keep the growth. That's why we chose Toronto," Mallat told me in July 2009.

Ubisoft Toronto's overall plan is to focus on triple-A titles, which Raymond tells Develop is the strategy that would tempt developers to join the young studio. "If developers have ambition to make triple-A projects, and want to have their place in what is a thriving start-up, [then] Ubisoft Toronto is the place for them," Raymond added.

The Government of Ontario is also anticipating growth. When the studio was announced in summer 2009, the Provincial Government signed an agreement to invest $263 million (CND) into Ubisoft Toronto over the next decade. The hope, officials said during an announcement press release, was to help bring employment and commerce to Canada's largest city, as well as help it expand culturally and artistically.

According to Develop, Ubisoft itself will aid in expansion by pumping half-a-billion dollars (CND) into the new Toronto complex.

Ubisoft's strategy continues to be shared development of projects across the company's multitude of development studios. Although Ubisoft Montreal gets the most attention, its franchises have often jumped to other developers within the company to expedite output.

"The bottom line is the way we are developing games today is changing," Raymond said. "Games are growing into huge-scale triple-A projects. If you look at any big brand like GTA, the games are being done across multiple studios and multiple teams." With studios expanding to hundreds, or even thousands, of employees, it's essential for "complex management methods to make sure everything is held together; the feature development, the communication, and everything else," she concluded.