Ubisoft planning Toronto studio

Game maker opened Vancouver unit this year

TORONTO -- French interactive game maker Ubisoft on Monday unveiled plans to open a Toronto development studio, with the Ontario provincial government pitching in $226 million over 10 years to create 800 jobs.

The move follows the Ontario provincial government in May announcing it will invest $20.5 million into the Starz Animation Toronto 3D cartoon studio over the next five years to create and retain high-tech jobs locally.

In its latest digital industry investment, Ontario will help Ubisoft open its fourth Canadian studio in Toronto, alongside existing facilities in Montreal and Quebec City, where the game maker employs about 2,000 people, and another in Vancouver opened this year.

As part of its agreement with the Ontario government, Ubisoft will invest another $500 million in the new Toronto studio over the next decade, after the facility opens its doors in late 2009. Ubisoft Toronto will be overseen by Yannis Mallat, CEO of Ubisoft Montreal, the game maker's flagship development studio.

The Toronto expansion by Ubisoft with taxpayer subsidies comes as Canada attempts to offset the decline in Hollywood movie and TV location shooting here with increased high-tech digital jobs.

The city of Toronto in April acquired a 20% stake in the Toronto's Filmport complex to make way for Britain's Pinewood Studios Group to take control of the mega-studio.

And Disney/Pixar said in May that it will open an animation studio in Vancouver in the fall after the British Columbia provincial government offered lucrative tax incentives and other subsidies.