Koei expands Toronto studio

Publisher focusing on top Canadian talent as it looks to increase workforce by 150-200 people.

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Koei today announced plans to dramatically expand its Canadian studio by 150-200 people over the next few years. However, those clamoring to see a Romance of the 10 Provinces (and Three Territories) will likely have to clamor a while longer, as the studio currently has just 30 employees and two games in development, including the PlayStation 3 launch game Fatal Inertia.

With so many developers setting up shop in the Great White North, Canada is fast becoming a center of game development. Though considering the talent is spread from coast to coast, it might be more accurate to say "centers of game development," or even "centres of game development."

Montreal, in particular, has received plenty of attention of late, as Ubisoft Montreal came to prominence with the highly regarded Splinter Cell and Prince of Persia series (it's currently working on Michel Ancel's game adaptation of King Kong), and Electronic Arts opened up its own studio there last year. EA's own Vancouver studio has long been a staple of the Canadian development scene, along with Bioware (Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire), Relic Entertainment (Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, Homeworld), Rockstar Vancouver (Bully), Digital Extremes (Pariah, Unreal Tournament 2004), and Radical Entertainment (Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Crash Tag Team Racing).

Most of these companies are run out of Montreal and Vancouver, but Koei found Toronto to be the ideal setting for its new North American arm.

"Toronto is a vibrant city with a rich cultural mosaic that provides us with the necessary talent to develop games for a global marketplace," said Koei's founder and game designer Yoichi Erikawa, who has worked on many of the company's biggest games under the name Kou Shibusawa.

Erikawa's expertise is historical strategy (he's worked on Nobunaga's Ambition, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Kessen), but he is among a group of Japanese game designers Koei has helping the Toronto team with the futuristic combat-racing of Fatal Inertia. Koei plans for this kind of cross-continental development help to go both ways, as members of the Toronto team will be given the opportunity to work at Koei studios in Europe and Asia.

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