According to Alain Tascan, over the past two years, video game consumers have clearly favored the high-quality games. “The bar is higher than it was, but for me, it’s a natural maturation of our industry, he said. The players pay the same price for a very good game or a more ordinary one, why don’t they choose the best? That being said, this quest for quality is costly. We must get to know the talent, the few visionaries who can show others the way to make great games."
It is no longer just about finding qualified employees, but how to attract the best of the industry in Montreal. "The government has a role to play in this, he said. We must accelerate the arrival of highly talented individuals, either by facilitating the task of immigration or encouraging them to come through with tax latitudes. Certainly, we must be proactive in this matter. After some very good things have arrived, it attracts others and forms certain employees that are already among us, which means that even if they leave later, their arrival has had a very positive impact."
By creating intellectual properties that belong to Quebec companies, the industry here can ensure its survival, says Alain Tascan. "To make quality intellectual properties, it takes time, he said. You never know if an idea will sell, but by taking the best possible steps to produce, you increase your chances of success. When a property is installed properly, it can bring in tens of years and this is when it really starts to pay off. Take "Need for Speed", for example. The income generated by this property is astronomical."
The intellectual properties also have the advantage of being able to decline on several platforms. EA Montreal will benefit in years to come, especially with the title, Army of Two. "The important intellectual property is to have a universe that stands," said Alain Tascan. What we want to see later is how this universe will react when you put it in a certain situation. For example, we are producing the movie, Army of Two. All that we said to the filmmakers is to not kill the characters and to understand the universe in which they operate. That’s it. What they will do will enrich the world of Army of Two. Our two video game titles are, in fact, only a part of this universe."
EA is one of the few video game companies to produce games for just about every possible niche of the video game. In Montreal, EA intends to focus on consoles created by Nintendo. "What is extraordinary about the consoles from Nintendo is that they have managed to bring back the game to a wider audience, says Alain Tascan. We believe in this platform because it brings the games back to their base, which is entertainment. Everyone can play the Wii, therefore it must be familiar with the games to be able to manage the controller from the Xbox 360 or PS3. Sure, the Wii is less powerful, but it has reconnected people to the game and opened new markets, particularly among younger and older people." Montreal is the studio of EA with the most experience on that platform.
EA Montreal is ranked the fourth largest EA studio and the only one built from scratch from local talent. "We have now more than 700 people working here, said Alain Tascan. I do not intend to grow a very large studio, but we’re still one of the few EA studios that continues to grow."
If Alain Tascan strongly believes in the potential of Quebec, he also thinks it would be nice that the digital entertainment business in the province be a bit more paranoid towards the competition that is coming in the next few years. "Do not sit on your laurels, he said. The competition is there and places like Ontario, which are currently developing their video game industry, are very aggressive. If the mayonnaise takes, Toronto could be competition for Montreal. It is an anglophone city that could have an easier time attracting American talent."
[Charles Premont] [September 6, 2010]
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