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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.

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speakinng to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate panel will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with "crimes against humanity," alleging his COVID-19 pandemic response led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, per the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The latest: The lawmakers initially said Bolsonaro should be charged with mass homicide and genocide, but lawmakers updated the report to replace these recommendations with the new charge, its lead author, Sen. Renan Calheiros, told the NYT.