Ubisoft Montreal is a subsidiary of French giant Ubisoft. It is located in the province of Quebec, in Canada. With over 2500 employees, it is one of the biggest development studios in the world.
Following the collapse of the Montreal manufacturing and textile industry in the late 1990s, the local political party in charge at the time - Parti Quebecois - needed a plan for job creation. They saw the potential of the growing multimedia industry at the time and started an initiative to turn Montreal into a multimedia hub. Called "Plan Mercure", it proposed subsidiaries for investing companies. After preliminary negotiations with Ubisoft, the plan hit a roadblock when it was deemed financially untenable for the government. But public & media pressure persevered and Plan Mercure was eventually implemented in 1997 when Ubisoft finally set up their Montreal studio, with heavily subsidized jobs. Over the course of five years, 500 jobs were subsidized as the Quebec government contributed $15,000 per employee with the federal government contributing another $10,000 per employee. The policy did bear fruit in the long run since by 2010, the studio employed over 2500 employees in the area.
Since the creation of Ubisoft Montreal, other publishers like EA, Eidos, THQ & Warner Bros have also set up similar development houses in the area. In addition to heavy subsidization, Ubisoft has also cited the French speaking population and the area's low rent as reasons for choosing Montreal over other considered locations like New Brunswick.
After developing Tonic Trouble & Goin' Quackers, games aimed at a younger audience, Ubisoft Montreal's first big release was 2002's Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. The game put players in the role NSA agent Sam Fisher resolving global conflicts through espionage. It was critically lauded and led to the creation of a long running franchise. In 2003, they released Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time which met with even more success, winning multiple Game of the Year awards and revitalized the classic franchise. Over the next few years, Ubisoft Montreal's main success came from iterating on these titles.
In 2006, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas was released on multiple platforms and was one of the first big budget titles on the new generation of consoles. Vegas marked a new course for the Rainbow Six franchise, switching the emphasis from the traditional heavy tactical mission pre-planning to the in-the-moment action.
In 2007, Ubisoft Montreal released Assassin's Creed as part of a new IP, where players take control of an assassin during tumultuous historical times like the Crusades or Renaissance. With a positive critical response and over 8 million sales, the first Assassin's Creed still remains their biggest commercial success yet. Since then, they have continued to iterate on the franchise, with continued financial and critical success. Since then the company has released Assassin's Creed II and Revelations, with the series looking to become an annual franchise. They also picked up the reigns of the Far Cry franchise from CryTek and released Far Cry 2 in 2008.
Currently, the developers are working on Assassin's Creed III, Far Cry 3, and Rainbow Six: Patriots game.