Microsoft Returns To Vancouver With New AAA Studio
Our hearts broke a little bit last summer with the news that Microsoft was shuttering Microsoft Flight and laid off a wide swath of employees at Microsoft Game Studios Vancouver. Not that we’ll miss the Kinect game the studio was working on, but those layoffs came soon after Rockstar closed their Vancouver studio (relocating affected employees to Toronto), and THQ laid off several dozen Vancouver-based employees of their own. The city has been hit hard by the current rough economic climate, and it would be shameful for a place so friendly to talent to end up losing it.
Fortunately, news comes today that suggests the city is still an attractive locale for developers, as Microsoft formed an all new Vancouver-based studio devoted to AAA games. The Vancouver Sun reports that the new studio, Black Tusk Studios, began as a Microsoft supported venture with 5 employees and expanded to 55 total, around which time it recieved permission to establish as a full-blown studio. They are now hiring more staff for work on AAA games intended for Xbox 360.
Take that 360 news with a grain of salt, because they’re planning what sounds like big things. “We are working on Microsoft’s next big entertainment franchise,” said studio manager Mike Crump. “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.” Interesting. If they’re really building what they hope will be the next flagship franchise, I can’t imagine they’re aiming for the tail end of a waning generation. My guess is, assuming they’re not talking ahead of their game, that this will end up being on whatever the next Xbox console is called.
In the meantime, congratulations, Vancouver. Your tech industry situation is less bleak.