Video game giant Ubisoft will create about 500 new jobs in Montreal over the next seven years.
Ubisoft Montreal and Toronto CEO Yannis Mallat announced the $373-million investment this morning at the company's Montreal headquarters, alongside several Parti Québécois cabinet ministers.
Mallat said the company — which has five locations in Montreal — is looking to hire locally, with the majority of jobs going to Quebecers.
The company currently has 2,650 staff members in Montreal and it expects to employ 3,500 people in its Quebec studios by 2020.
"We’re happy to have been able to make this project here in Montreal. It could have been elsewhere, but the jobs are here," Mallat said.
He said Ubisoft considered expanding in other cities, but chose Montreal primarily because of a financial boost from the provincial government. Premier Pauline Marois announced a $9.9-million investment in the Ubisoft expansion, and said the company will be offered tax incentives.
Marois called Ubisoft a "jewel" in the Quebec economy.
Montreal is now one of the largest video game production centres in the world, behind Tokyo and Los Angeles.
Mallat said that when Ubisoft arrived in Quebec in 1997, it took advantage of the existence of a number of university programs that trained people to work in the video game industry. He said it helped to make Montreal a hotspot for video game development.
“Sixteen years later, what makes us stay here is the insane amount of talent that we found, and that we nurture and help to grow,” he said.
Most of the new jobs to be created in Montreal are a reflection of how video gaming has evolved over time, Mallat said.
He said gaming has majorly shifted to online, requiring Ubisoft to expand its online operations and hire for a greater diversity of skilled positions. Community managers, systems operators and interactive marketing specialists are among the jobs the company is looking to fill.