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A slide from a presentation used to woo game studios to Montreal. Image: Montreal International

The announcement of a new Gearbox studio in Montreal yesterday extends an extraordinary streak of studio openings in what was already one of the global capitals for video game creation.

Driving the news: Since last year, Tencent’s TiMi Studios, 2K, Amazon, Dontnod, New World Interactive, Phoenix Labs, Quantic Dream, Room 8, Deck13, and more have opened studios in Montreal.

Two motivations prevail:

  • Financing the studios with the region's generous tax credits.
  • Tapping into a rich talent pool filled by decades of major game development in the city.

Between the lines: Montreal has been a game development hub since the ’90s when local studios such as Behaviour got a new neighbor in Paris-headquartered Ubisoft.

  • The “Assassin’s Creed” maker now employs nearly 5,000 people in its studios in Quebec, where its Montreal operation is the largest.
  • Since Ubisoft entered, other game giants followed, including EA, Eidos and Bethesda.
  • Smaller studios such as Panache and Reflector opened up, often run by people who left the bigger Montreal outfits.

What they’re saying: “We think we are in the third wave, where we see more big studios coming, many of them coming from Asia,” Stéphane Paquet, head of the public-private business group Montréal International, told Axios.

  • Among the recent studio openings: A Montreal office for Chinese hit-maker MiHoYo, whose “Genshin Impact” is one of the biggest games on the planet.
  • Some new studios, such as Haven and Raccoon Logic, are opening in the wake of development downsizing at Google Stadia, and many are plucking ex-Ubisoft developers, some of whom have become disenchanted with that company.
  • Joked one local developer to Axios of everyone’s Montreal game dev hiring strategy: “Ubi is basically their supermarket.”

The big picture: Montréal International estimates there are now about 200 game studios and 15,000 industry workers in the city.

  • One studio source told Axios that expansion has been good for workers, as some deeper-pocketed companies such as Epic and Unity arrive and offer better wages.
  • And as new studios provide more options, they have an unusual amount of power to land the jobs that make them happiest.

Go deeper

"Squid Game" meets video games

Image courtesy of Netflix

"Squid Game" is Netflix's biggest series launch ever with more than 111 million views, but the show has taken root beyond the streaming platform in spaces like TikTok and the gaming industry.

Why it matters: The battle royale-style show's influence in video games seems to spread more every week.

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.