Ubisoft announces $780-million Quebec expansion

MONTREAL — Twenty years after coming to Quebec, French video game giant Ubisoft announced plans Tuesday to invest $780 million in the province by 2027, hire more than 1,000 people and open two new studios.

Ubisoft’s expansion includes a $135-million investment to open a studio in early 2018 in Saguenay, about 250 kilometres north of Quebec City, said co-founder and CEO Yves Guillemot.

The company also plans to add 675 jobs in Montreal and another 200 in Quebec City, while opening a fourth bureau in the province in an undisclosed location.

“The expertise of Ubisoft’s Quebec studios is one of the motors of the company’s growth,” Guillemot said.

He said the company is looking to hire 125 people within five years to work in the Saguenay office.

Ubisoft’s studios in the province have developed some of the company’s famous brands including video games Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry.

The company, which currently has 3,600 employees in Montreal and Quebec City, has taken advantage of the Quebec government’s subsidy program for multimedia firms.

Up to 37.5 per cent of admissible salary expenses is eligible for reimbursement with tax dollars.

For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, Ubisoft received $90 million from Quebec’s coffers to subsidize employee salaries.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard was on hand for the announcement and said the tax credit program is worth it.

“Tax credits on 1,000 jobs created by Ubisoft represents an expense of roughly $160 million,” Couillard said. “It’s a choice we have made.”

The province’s subsidy program has been criticized by non-multimedia companies in the province who aren’t offered similar tax credits but who are competing for the same talent.

Guillemot said Ubisoft’s Quebec investment has totalled $3.5 billion since 1997 and will increase to $9 billion at the end of its expansion plan.

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