Ubisoft decides to hire 200 additional employees and invest an additional $139 million





If you want to create the next Assassin’s Creed Where just danceyou’re lucky.

Ubisoft, the global gaming giant, will add 200 jobs to its Winnipeg site over the next eight years. This is the latest stage in Manitoba’s growth as a tech hub, proponents say.

Ubisoft aims to triple its local crew of 100 by 2030, it announced on Friday.

“We’re here for the talent,” said Michael Henderson, General Manager of Ubisoft Winnipeg.

Employees of the Exchange District site collaborate in the production of games around the world. They’re partnering with Ubisoft studios in North America and overseas to “solve their toughest technical issues,” Henderson said.

This includes diving into projects the public might not see for years.

“Ubisoft, as a strategy, goes where the talent is,” Henderson said. “That’s why we came to Winnipeg (in 2019).”

The French company said it would invest an additional $139 million in the Prairie province by 2030, for a total of $264 million from its earliest roots.


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“The fact that we’re two years into a pandemic and they’re making this level of investment is just a huge vote of confidence,” Mayor Brian Bowman said.

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RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

“The fact that we’re two years into a pandemic and they’re making this level of investment is just a huge vote of confidence,” Mayor Brian Bowman said.

“The fact that we’re two years away from a pandemic and they’re making such an investment is just a huge vote of confidence (in Winnipeg),” Mayor Brian Bowman said.

Ubisoft outdid itself: it aimed to hire 100 employees for its Winnipeg site within five years of its launch. He reached his goal more than a year ahead of schedule.

“I’m really thrilled that the community was able to demonstrate that this is a good investment,” Bowman said.

About 70 per cent of the Winnipeg branch’s current workforce is from Manitoba, Henderson said. Others immigrated to the city to work.

“Some of the most outstanding members of our team came from (a) (University of Manitoba) internship program,” Henderson said.

Ubisoft is involved in several post-secondary initiatives across the province. By 2030, it will have invested $1 million in the local tech ecosystem, it announced on Friday.

Red River College Polytechnic consulted Ubisoft on the two new game development programs it launched in September.

“What we were hearing from students and industry is that they wanted a dedicated video game (development program),” said Kirk Johnson, dean of business, computing and creative arts.

The school opened a $95 million+ Innovation Center last year, complete with a state-of-the-art space dedicated to video game design, in the Exchange District. The move was “largely due to Ubisoft and other video game companies being in town,” Johnson said.




<p>RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Ubisoft’s vice president of production technology, Nicolas Rioux, was on hand Friday for the announcement.</p>
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<p>RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Ubisoft’s vice president of production technology, Nicolas Rioux, was on hand Friday for the announcement.</p>
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<p>Some of the 20 students from the new programs will meet at Ubisoft for internships.			</p>
<p>“As Ubisoft looks to recruit staff, we’re going to have a lot of great graduates ready to apply,” Johnson said.			</p>
<p>Other students, including those in business, graphic design and information security, will benefit from the video game giant’s expansion, Johnson said.			</p>
<p>“Potentially hundreds or even thousands of students are in a better place now because this organization is doing this extension,” he said.			</p>
<p>There’s a ripple effect, said Dayna Spiring, president and CEO of <a class=Economic Development
Winnipeg.

“Success breeds success,” she said. “I think the more our young people see that they can have a career in video games in Winnipeg, the more they can be inspired to start their own business.”

She and Bowman took a trip to Montreal six years ago to pitch Winnipeg to Ubisoft. Now, with the success of the venture, more industry players may see Winnipeg as a viable nesting place, she said.

“We know our tax credit is good, we know there are a lot of synergies between the video game industry and film and special effects…so we’re going to promote that,” Spiring said.

Eligible businesses in the interactive digital media industry can earn a refundable tax credit of up to 40% in Manitoba.




<p>MIKAELA MACKENZIE / FREE PRESS KITS</p>
<p>“As Ubisoft looks to recruit staff, we’re going to have a lot of great graduates ready to apply,” says Kirk Johnson, RRC Polytech’s Dean of Business, Computing and Creative Arts.</p>
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<p>MIKAELA MACKENZIE / FREE PRESS KITS</p>
<p>“As Ubisoft seeks to recruit staff, we are going to have a lot of great graduates ready to apply,” said Kirk Johnson, Dean of Business, Computing and Creative Arts at RRC Polytech.</p>
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<p>The Progressive Conservatives made the appropriation permanent in last year’s budget, Premier Heather Stefanson noted at Ubisoft’s press conference on Friday.			</p>
<p>“We want to keep our talent, our young people, here in Manitoba, and this is a great avenue for that,” Economic Development Minister Cliff Cullen said.			</p>
<p>Ubisoft has mentored and worked with children in the province on computer skills.  He established a scholarship for women in computer science at the University of Manitoba.			</p>
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“We want to keep our talent, our young people, here in Manitoba, and this is just a great avenue for that.” – Economic Development Minister Cliff Cullen

The Exchange District team has moved permanently to a hybrid model, Henderson said. However, he encourages staff to come. Everyone who works for the office must live in Manitoba, he said.

The new jobs — and the potential increase in foot traffic — is good news for Austin Granados, co-owner of nearby Cake-ology.

“We (could) sell more, make more business out of it,” Granados said. “(It would) create a kind of buzz here at the Exchange.”

The number of passers-by has increased as restrictions ease and the weather warms, he said.

A list of Ubisoft vacancies can be found on their website. It will hire programmers “from many different disciplines,” Henderson said. A background in video games isn’t always necessary, he added.

[email protected]

Gabrielle Piche

Gabrielle Piche
Journalist

Gabby is a huge fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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