Microsoft’s Black Tusk Studios opens in Vancouver

Black Tusk Studios Logo
Black Tusk Studios’ new logo. Photo courtesy of

Just when you thought Vancouver’s gaming industry was ready to lay down and die, a game changer has arrived in the city.

Black Tusk Studios, named after nearby Black Tusk mountain, will focus on developing the next generation of games for Microsoft’s successful Xbox 360 console.

Mike Crump, head of the new studio, said that opening Black Tusk Studios in Vancouver was an easy choice.

“There’s a rich heritage of game development in Vancouver. All the way back to Don Mattrick creating a company calling Distinctive Software back in the ‘80s, which was kind of the genesis the video game industry in Vancouver,” said Crump. “Some of the biggest game franchises came form Vancouver and we want to see that continue.”

“Were not expanding an existing franchise that’s already out there. Everything from Gears of War, Halo, Fable and Forza; our goal is to build the next one of those, the next big franchise.”

This announcement comes just months after the closure of two other video game studios in Vancouver as both Rockstar Vancouver and Radical Entertainment closed their doors earlier this year.

UBC economics professor Nicolas Schmitt believes that the new studio could be very beneficial for the city.

“It’s very good for Vancouver. I speak highly of the kind of skilled labour that can be found in Vancouver, training as well,” said Schmitt.

A competitive atmosphere for the video game industry creates a goldmine of local talent

Schmitt believes a competitive atmosphere for an industry like this creates a goldmine of localized talent.

“Vancouver is already known for this kind of work because of other firms in the city working in similar kinds of business. There are also schools training those people for this. So it’s a good idea for those people to come to Vancouver to find the people they need for whatever project they have,” he said.

The in-town industry is one of the many reasons the studio is being built in Vancouver as opposed to cities like Toronto or Montreal, where the company could potentially double their tax credit. Microsoft head office is just south of the city in nearby Washington.

Benefits to setting up a studio in Vancouver instead of on the East Coast

Crump said that another advantage to opening the studio here is that Vancouver is known as a great place to live.

“When we do go outside Vancouver to recruit, it’s never a tough sell to convince them to move here,” said Crump.

Schmitt, however, points out, to bring people to work in this city a company would need spare no expense.

“Yes, it’s a fantastic place to live, but you need to pay a higher salary to people that come here. These guys probably have deep enough pockets to be able to do that.”

Proper attitude key for success in the gaming industry

For students looking to get into the industry, Crump said first and foremost, fun is the key.

“Were making video games here. If you’re not having fun then there’s something wrong.”

Reported by Lev Jackson

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