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Microsoft opens new AAA studio in embattled Vancouver
Microsoft opens new AAA studio in embattled Vancouver
November 29, 2012 | By Mike Rose

It's been a tough year for the video game industry in Vancouver, but a new Microsoft studio is looking to put the Canadian coastal city back on the map.

Black Tusk Studios is a 55 employee-strong studio focused on creating AAA games for the Xbox 360, and the company's staff have an average of 12 years experience each in the field, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Studio manager Mike Crump says that the company is "working on Microsoft's next big entertainment franchise -- we're not working on an existing franchise, we're looking to build the next Halo here in Vancouver, for example, which is really exciting. We are building something from the ground up."

Vancouver has seen its games industry presence dwindle in the last 12 months. Max Payne 3 studio Rockstar Vancouver closed in the summer, while Prototype developer Radical Entertainment followed suit.

The start of the year also saw Ubisoft closing its own Vancouver branch. Gamasutra's Leigh Alexander recently looked into why everything appears to be falling apart for the city's games industry.

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David Phan
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Awesome news for the Vancouver console development scene. Looking forward to see what springs forth from the Black Tusk team.

Dave Ingram
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Yeah, it is exciting news. "...Microsoft's next big entertainment franchise..." sounds pretty awesome to me. I'm excited to see what they will produce.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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Didnt Microsoft already had a studio in Vancouver? I know people who have been working there for years. Is this a second studio, or did they rebrand the existing one?

Matt Wilson
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Black Tusk would be a second studio.

They also have an XBox support center in Burnaby, IIRC.

Chad Berger
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I'm an industry vet from Vancouver. Most of my career I've had to work in the USA, although my experience in the USA is far more positive than in Canada.

Why are people excited about this studio in Vancouver? Here's some quick facts about Microsoft Vancouver.
- they have 3 artist positions in a city with about 400 unemployed artists.
- one of the positions is contract, a contract job is useless if you have a family.
- the other contract position in Vancouver at EA also requires you help cheap labor in China do assets.
- the lead artist position they have, they are speaking to artists from Europe to fill.
- if they hire a local artist that person will very unlikely be Canadian.
- they are located in Yaletown, here's a wakeup call, to buy just a 1 bedroom apartment 800 square feet is more than half a million dollars, or a mortgage of 2600 / month.
- to skytrain to a normal city (say Surrey) that has condos / houses in the 400k range you'll be on a skytrain for a steady 50 minutes catching a new flu every month.
- there are many students = cheap labor waiting in the wings in Vancouver.