The top video game studios in Toronto
When it comes to video game development, Toronto has historically been overshadowed by Vancouver and Montreal, where big developers like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft reign supreme. Toronto has always fostered the growth of smaller independent studios and with the increasing trend towards mobile and tablet use; the city is beginning to be recognized as a major hub for video game development.
Here I take a look at some of the gaming companies based out of Toronto. Chances are, at least one of the titles on your smartphone was developed by them.
Founded in 2003 by a group of Toronto IGDA members, Capy is an award-winning developer of mobile/handheld games. Their latest title Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery won awards at the Independent Games Festival, IndieCade, and was a finalist for the GameCity Prize, where it was nominated against major titles like Minecraft, and Portal 2. Capy recently featured their latest title Super Time Force at PAX East 2012 to much excitement. Take a sneak peek into Super Time Force here (it looks awesome).
This studio was founded in 2008 by several members of Pseudo Interactive. DrinkBox's Tales from Space: About a Blob was released in early 2011 and was noted for its unique art style. They recently released Mutant Blobs Attack (a sequel to the first game) as part of the launch for the portable PlayStation Vita, and it's now considered one of the best titles available on the Vita. Their upcoming game Guacamelee! was recently demoed at PAX East 2012 as well.
Get Set Games Inc.
Founded by Seneca alum Derek van Vliet and Ryerson graduate Robert Segal, Get Set is the studio behind the immensely popular mobile game Mega Jump. It is currently one of the best reviewed titles on Android Play with almost 3 million downloads, and over 20 million on the Apple App Store. Their latest title Mega Run (a side scroller followup to Mega Jump) is scheduled to be released in the App Store on May 30th.
Founded by Seumas McNally, Longbow Games has been around since 1998 making their mark with games like Tread Marks, DX-Ball, and their current title Hegemony. DX-Ball (designed by McNally) was released in 1996 and became a Windows freeware cult classic. Their 3D multi-player tank combat game Tread Marks went on to win the Grand Prize at the 2000 Independent Games Festival. Following the passing of McNally in 2000, the award changed its name in his honour.
Founded by Miguel Sternberg, Spookysquid released Night of the Cephalopods in 2008. It was noted for its interactive narrative technique, and made the Indie Game's best of 2008 list. Spookysquid are currently working on their lo-fi gothic side scroller They Bleed Pixels, slated to be released on Xbox Live Indie Games in 2012. Sternberg's pixel art has also been featured in the Scott Pilgrim comic books, and the movie Crank.
Tiny Hearts is the name behind the iOS favourite Pocket Zoo. They recently released their memory card-matching game InstaMatch, which creatively uses popular photos from Instagram to recreate the classic game we all played as kids (but with a twist). With only two titles to their name, Tiny Hearts is one of the best examples of how small (in size) a successful indie game developer can be.
Opened in 2009, the Toronto office for Ubisoft (our big name developer on this list) currently employs over 200 people, but has big plans to increase that number to 800 in the next 10 years. Originally founded in 1986, Ubisoft has brought us such classics as Assassin's Creed, Rayman, and Prince of Persia. Not much needs to be said about Ubisoft other than that they are a pretty big deal. The Toronto studio is currently working on the next installment of the Splinter Cell series (to be released in 2012) and will also be working on the Rainbow 6 title Patriots, for 2013.
XMG Studio Inc.
Founded by mobile software industry veteran and Richard Ivey graduate Ray Sharma, XMG Studio is a major mobile game developer of titles like Cows vs. Aliens, Drag Racer: Pro Tuner, and Pandemica: AR Shooter. They are also responsible for the decidedly Canadian gaming tie-ins for Inspector Gadget and Degrassi High. XMG Studio is also the co-host of Canada's largest hackathon, the Great Canadian Appathon. The company recently acquired the official Ghostbusters license for iOS, and are currently developing a location-based game under that title.
The Hand Eye Society
The Hand Eye Society is not a game developer, but is a great resource for anyone interested in supporting the Toronto videogame community. This not-for-profit coalition aims to connect game creators and gamers through events and showcases. Actually, they do a lot of great stuff, so just visit their website for more information, and see how you can get involved.
Also of note is the Canadian made documentary Indie Game Movie. Recently screened at Hot Docs, this documentary looks into the world of independent video game development through the eyes of the designers and developers that created Super Meat Boy, FEZ, and Braid. The film focuses on the painstaking and obsessive nature of what video game development means to these individuals, and has premiered to rave reviews at both Sundance and SXSW.
Writing by Jarita Lee. Photo by Ross McCauley in the blogTO Flickr pool.
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