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Rockstar Vancouver closes, shuffles employees to Toronto

The studio that built Max Payne 3 is moving to Rockstar's new Toronto office

Rockstar Games has announced that Max Payne 3 developer Rockstar Vancouver will be shuttering, with its 35-person team having the option to move a new facility that will house the Rockstar Toronto team. The new studio is custom-built and located in Oakville, Ontario, supported by the Ontario government. Rockstar Vancouver's team will be offered choices of positions at the new studio or other Rockstar studios.

"Expanding Rockstar Toronto and bringing our Canadian development talent together under one roof underscores our commitment to building world-class teams that can make the kind of groundbreaking entertainment experiences Rockstar Games is known for," said Jennifer Kolbe, Vice President of Publishing and Operations for Rockstar Games.

"We believe a single Canadian team will make for a powerful creative force on future projects. We plan to add more than 50 new positions to our combined Canadian team, and are pleased to be entering into this strategic partnership with the Ontario government."

"Rockstar Games' decision to expand its Toronto studio demonstrates the confidence in Ontario's leading-edge digital gaming industry. By providing financial support and tax incentives to help companies grow, we maximize Ontario's competitiveness in the global economy and support job creation," said Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Innovation.

Rockstar Vancouver led the development of Max Payne 3, with Rockstar Toronto and other studios lending a hand. The game saw significant delays and launched to positive critical reception, but ultimately had poor performance in its first month of sales. Weak sales and the expanded Toronto studio with government assistance have seemingly led to the studio's closure.

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Latest comments (8)

It looks like the age of mega studios in Canada is now heating up indeed!
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Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 4 years ago
Or may be Rockstar simply need the head count to justify their Toronto studio's existence. I thought the Canadian Government was asking questions as to why the head count wasn't going the way they were told. Those red tape types can be very anal about such things.
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Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios4 years ago
The game saw significant delays and launched to positive critical reception, but ultimately had poor performance in its first month of sales.
Maybe that's because Blizzard decided to release Diablo III on the same day as the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Max Payne 3. Blizzard pretty much slapped Rockstar in the face with a game that people have been waiting on for over a decade.
Weak sales and the expanded Toronto studio with government assistance have seemingly led to the studio's closure.
This is possible, or it's possible Rockstar wanted to consolidate their development talent to one single studio. Remember, Rockstar Toronto (formerly Rockstar Canada developed the PC version of GTA4, it's possible they're consolidating to speed up last minute production of Grand Theft Auto V.

If it really was weak sales that is leading to the close of the studio, wouldn't they just be pink slipping people and not
offered choices of positions
? These people are being given the option to move to the new Studio, they're not being canned.
Weak sales and the expanded Toronto studio with government assistance have seemingly led to the studio's closure.
Is this opinion based on observation? It's possible the sales had something to do with the decision, but a consolidation of development power to work on one of the most anticipated games ever (save for Diablo III of course), would be the silver lining, and the Ontario government was in the right place at the right time for Rockstart to take an opportunity to get things finished up with GTAV thanks to a beefed up development staff that doesn't have to email or pick up a phone to collaborate on a project.
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Show all comments (8)
Neil Alphonso Lead Designer, Splash Damage Ltd4 years ago
Bit of a stretch to say Oakville is in Toronto, but okay. Vancouver has just proven too expensive for most publishers, even before Ontario's and Quebec's tax incentives are taken into account.
A real shame... Vancouver is one of the loveliest cities in the world.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D4 years ago
Here's a novel idea. How about no tax breaks, anwyhere?

The above is great for Toronto but sucks for those employees in Vancouver who might be quite happy there, thank you very much. And sure, maybe Vancouver is more expensive even without the tax breaks, but they've no doubt influenced the decision to up sticks.

Here's to those affected.

Edit: "These people are being given the option to move to the new Studio, they're not being canned."

And what if they don't want to move? What if they've built lives in Vancouver, with family and friends nearby? Ontario is hardly just down the street. It's like when THQ shut down Kaos and moved it to Montreal - thanks very much for all the hard work, and all the crunch, you put into Homefront, but we've been offered a better deal elsewhere so you can come with us or you're on your own. Montreal might only be 8 hours (or so) away by car (which I know for a fact after having to get there overnight from JFK when no planes were going), but people build lives where they work. And tax breaks, whether in Ontario or Quebec, pander purely to corporations who, frankly, won't think twice about shifting everything to Asia when the gravy train runs out.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Fran Mulhern on 10th July 2012 4:30pm

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Just come to UK. A great Creative hotbed here without additional perks. Sink and swim time for indies and a growing culture of the small is beautiful principle :)
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises4 years ago
It's interesting to see the Ontario government's plan working, but I don't think luring big game studios to the province will be enough to turn it into California. For that to happen we really need global warming to speed up to provide great weather all year long.
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Private VIdeo Games 4 years ago
Tax breaks are great!!!
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