Canada has given much to gaming over the years, but chances are, you haven't noticed. So, with July 1st being Canada Day, I figured this would be as good a time as any to point out some of the great developers that are based in Canada, as well as naming some of the great games they have given us.
To start things off with a bang, we have one of Electronic Arts' two big Canadian development houses: EA Canada. Ever heard of a little series called Need For Speed? Ever since Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, EA Black Box (Part of EA Canada in Vancouver) has been the primary developer of almost every Need for Speed game. All those vast downtown scenes and industrial park-based cinematics in Most Wanted? Pure Vancouver goodness right there. As of now, EA Canada is hard at work at Skate It, a spin-off of the Playstation 3 and XBox 360 smash-hit Skate. They're also behind countless EA Sports titles, such as NBA Live 2003-08, NHL 2006-08, and FIFA 07-08. To top things of, EA Canada is was also the developer for several SSX snowboarding games. Quite the busy little Canuck company, huh?
Way on the other side of our vast country is the Quebec development studio EA Montreal. Several years younger than the larger EA Canada, Montreal's library is somewhat smaller, but still quite impressive. First, they're assisting EA Canada with the aforementioned Skate It, scheduled for release on the Wii sometime this holiday season. Speaking of Wii, they're also behind the amazingly fun SSX Blur, a game I really should get around to playing again. Of course, no development company is perfect. EA Montreal is also responsible for the quite badly-received Boogie games for both the Wii and DS, as well as the mixed-bag that was Army of Two (PS3 and XBox 360). Still, they've proven themselves to be a more than adequate developer, and I wish them success on their future endeavors.
Rockstar Toronto and Rockstar Vancouver
From almost entirely opposite sides of the country, Rockstar Toronto and Rockstar Vancouver make up the Canadian extension of Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar Games. While the newer Vancouver studio so far only has the Playstation 2 game Bully under its belt, the Toronto counterpart has developed the moderately well-received Oni (PS2, PC, Mac), the PS2 version of Max Payne, The Warriors, the Wii version of Manhunt 2, and even Bully: Scholarship Edition, the Wii update to Vancouver's first release under the Rockstar name. So far the two developers have done fairly well for themselves, and I really can't wait to see more from the Vancouver office. Here's hoping Rockstar throws them a bone sometime soon, because Bully is the only game they've made since being purchased by the developer in 2002. Good luck to them!
Of course, we can't talk about Canadian developers without mentioning the greatness that is BioWare. Developer of such amazing franchises as Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights and Mass Effect, BioWare is certainly competing on the global scale here. BioWare was even behind the massively successful Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. You can hardly even mention Star Wars games without someone bringing up that one! As of now, BioWare is currently hard at work on Mass Effect 2 (360, PC) and the blue hedgehogs first RPG adventure, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (DS), among a few other titles. Of all the game developers on this list, BioWare is by far the most recognizable by name. Definitely someone to be keeping an eye on.
And finally, we have ATI. You may not recognize them by name, but ATI developed the GPUs for the Gamecube, XBox 360, and Wii. Without them, none of these consoles would be quite the same. Sitting in several million houses across the globe right this moment is pure Canadian ingenuity, powering some of the best game experiences we've ever seen. The Gamecube's Flipper gave us the vast ocean of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the XBox 360's Xenos has allowed us to experience warfare like never before in Halo 3, and the Wii's Hollywood has thrown us into deep space with the world's favourite plumber in Super Mario Galaxy. ATI is definitely an important developer in the gaming industry, even though they haven't published a single game. So while they're now owned by AMD, ATI is still, at heart, a Canadian company.
I hope this article has informed you on just how important Canada is to the game industry. So remember, next time you play a game or use a product from one of the above developers, that you're holding a piece of Canadian ingenuity in your hands. As for me, I'm going to spend my Canada Day enjoying the fruits of my country's labour, playing Wii and watching some good old Canadian television. Happy Canada Day to all the Canadians out there. Everyone else, have a great Tuesday.
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