EA to open Montreal studio

The games are in it.

Electronic Arts plans to open a new Montreal development studio by the end of the year, the publisher announced on Wednesday. Developer Alain Tascan will be vice president and studio general manager, and is leading the search for potential locations as well as possible team members.

EA already has one Canadian studio based in Vancouver, responsible for many of its sports titles including the FIFA series and arcade snowboarding SSX franchise, but as EA worldwide studio president Don Mattrick put it, "we know there are a lot of talented people who prefer to live and work in the Northeast."

"After considering several cities in the US and Canada, we decided that Montreal offered the best combination of creative talent, technology infrastructure and favourable economics."

EA executive vice president Bruce McMillan hopes to have the studio up and running as quickly as possible, and believes it will be as successful as fellow outfits in the US and Canada.

"At EA, each of our global studios has distinctive character based on the games and franchises that are created there," he said on Wednesday. "I expect that in time, we could have as many as four major franchises operating out of Montreal."

While many rival publishers are lamenting poor fiscal results and the reality of downsizing, conversely EA is currently undergoing rigorous expansion, buoyed by several million-selling titles released over the last few years. Amongst their plans is a new complex in the disputed Playa Vista region of Los Angeles, capable of hosting 1,000 staff.

Shares in the publisher hit a new high this week, and it was also revealed on Monday in a federal filing that AOL would pay EA $27.5 million over two years for rights to carry their online games, reversing an earlier deal under which EA paid AOL.

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