Saturday, February 17, 2007

Technology Newsletter - Alberta - February 16, 2007 - Issue 3 - It's Back

As I did in 2005 and some of 2006, I am returning to the sending out of a newsletter on issues, news and ideas that are related to the technology sector in Alberta in nature, but important to Canadians in a wholistic form or way.
If you wish to be taken off the e-mail list, or put on it send me an e-mail to:

When some of us were talking about setting up a Technology Chamber of Commerce in Alberta, or during any number of meetings I have sat in on, through my association with the Alberta New Media Association (now the Digital Media Association of Alberta) I have sang a song from a songsheet that many discounted or ignored.

The story below is a prime example of how the federal, provincial and civic governments have come together both in policy, actions, and to some extent funding, to help nurture and grow a new media industry hub that has a world wide reputation and is attracting some of the biggest and brightest in the industry. It is also a new industry sector that is clean, and uses the great number of qualified and creative students being turned out of the digital media, computer programming, and creative school programs in Quebec.

It is one reason why the digital media and high technology industry along with their favourite federal, provincial and civic government agencies, have to stop setting up organizations and committees to talk about issues and concerns, with no real goal of actually creating any new and proactive policies or funding sources. We as an industry must demand that the the federal, provincial and civic government agencies involved to either help us to move the chains up the field in a real substantive fashion, or get out of our way. That brings to mind the issue of the industry being too tightly laced up to the apron strings of those the federal, provincial and civic government funds, with out any real room to advocate for anything other than what the agencies want to hear.

This includes both funding and tax policies, it includes both civic, provincial and federal government agencies, and it involves training the various stakeholders in this industry that they must stop thinking myopically, and start using creative or lateral thinking skills.

If we sit back and think the, 'talking or debating club,' approach will achieve any change, we are mistaken. The the federal, provincial and civic government agencies are only happy to see what appears to be activity in the digital media industry, and are not interested in challenging the status quo in any real way, for fear of not knowing what that might turn in to.

We certainly don't need anymore organizations funded to do surveys, or to sit around pontificating with no real results of increased economic activity with real substantive jobs being created.

We see the kind of money and policy changes that the various levels of government can come up with in Alberta for the arts, medical research and the energy sector. We need to advocate for a piece of that action.
Game maker goes to Montreal -
Edmonton Journal
Tomb Raider developer has big expansion plans
The Canadian Press
Friday, February 16, 2007
Eidos, the British-based video game developer that brought Lara Croft to life, is coming to Montreal.

Eidos Interactive announced Thursday that it is creating a new development studio in Montreal with plans to create 350 jobs in three years.

"We are starting literally from scratch. I'm literally the only guy in Montreal right now," an enthusiastic Stephane D'Astous, general manager of the new studio, said Thursday from Montreal.

"But we're going to be building up a team quite rapidly. I think I have the best job in Montreal right now."

The blueprint for the Montreal studio calls for three development teams, each no more than 80 people. There will also be a QA (quality assurance) team -- which will start with 30 people and grow to 100 over three years -- that will test Eidos games from around the world.

D'Astous, who still has to find office space, hopes to put a development team in place as early as this spring, with the other two to follow in 2008 and 2009.

D'Astous said the Montreal studio will focus on "major" game titles, exclusively for next-generation consoles. And he promises that his studio would take the time to make games properly, with production cycles of "at least 18 months, if not more."

He declined to detail his studio's first project other than to say it will be a major title.
"It should be announced quite soon because it will help me to do my recruitment obviously," he said. "It's a very well-known IP (intellectual property) and it's going to be major."

British-based SCi Games bought Eidos Interactive in May 2005, becoming SCi Entertainment Group in the process. SCi now markets all its products under the Eidos brand.

In addition to "Tomb Raider," it boasts the successful "Hitman" and "Championship Manager" franchises. Other recent releases included "Just Cause," "Reservoir Dogs" and "Battlestations Midway."

Eidos was founded in 1990, moving into video game development in 1995 and releasing the first "Tomb Raider" game in 1996. The franchise has gone on to sell more than 31 million units.

"We continue to open development studios in cost-effective locations," the company said in its 2006 annual report.

For the year ending June 2006, SCi reported total revenue of $406.3 million Cdn with profit before tax of $18. million.

The Eidos news comes six days after Ubisoft Montreal announced ambitious expansion plans for its Quebec operations. The company, which currently has 1,600 employees in the province, said its goal is to have 3,000 employees by 2013. The plans include building a production centre specializing in digital content to make short films inspired by Ubisoft games.

Montreal is also home to other development studios, including Electronic Arts, with several smaller studios focusing on the mobile game market.
© The Edmonton Journal 2007


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