Exclusive interview with Electronic Arts Alain Tascan, who is the Vice President and Studio General Manager for their new studio in Montreal



Wednesday March 17, 2004


Exclusive interview with Electronic Arts Alain Tascan, who is the Vice President and Studio General Manager for their new studio in Montreal

Ladydragon was invited by Electronic Arts today to visit their new studio in Montreal. We did a tour of the studio where LadyDragon was able to see where their were making the games. The studio is now devided in 2 side plus a conference room with a plasma screen on the to show like at E3.

The tour started where their are designers and artist. Alain give explained and showed us a little demotration on how the environment in a game is created its start with pictures of different places then replicated on a computer then animated on an other.

We were also able to see part of an hand combat animation then after 2 designers simulated the exact combat scene that we had seen on the computer but this time in front of the mirror. Why the mirror well the mirror gives the chance to the designers to see exactly the entire aspect of the fight so that it can be replicated as precise as possible on the computer.

LadyDragon spoke with one designer briefly who was designing a very early version of a vehicle. She told LadyDragon that she was very happy to be working at Electronic Arts and said that their compensation paid for her work was much better that previous placed where she add work before.

Then we went to see the other side where we saw someone that was testing the movement of a character with a playstation 2 controller. Then Ladydragon spoke with an engineer who also said that the remuneration was better then previous place plus the hours were good. She also said that most worker were from here but they were some from out of town.

Alain Tascan sits down with LadyDragon to offer more details on the studio

Alain Tascan

Alain Tascan has been in the video game industry for 10 years now he is from Nice, France and started already 3 games studios for Ubi Soft one in Paris, one in New-York and of course the one in Montreal. After the tour, Alain offered me lunch then sat down with me to discuss his plans for the studio.

LD: How did u get started with EA did they come and get you or did you contacted them ?.

AT: No, the way it happened was that I knew some people at EA and we wanted to work together and since EA wanted to open a studio, thats were things got started.

LD: How was Montreal selected?

AT: Well we wanted to open a studio on the East coast. We looked at cities like Chicago and Philadelphia and finally Montreal was shosen.

LD: What elements made you choose Montreal?

AT: We just did not want to open a studio for a short period, we looked at the long term propect like for 10 years. We also wanted a town that has good technological infrastructure like we wanted to be able to connect broadband to the Internet without no situation to have to deal with. Plus talent was a very important key factor, Montreal has a lot of good talent that are known the be creative. And last but not least we wanted a town where there was a lot of young people with great energy. Let face it we are creating entertainment and distraction we need workers that are energizenic and upbeat. Montreal also have an edge because its a town where 2 languages are spoken. Alain also added that it did help in his research that he knew the town well since he founded the Ubi Soft studio here.

LD: Now why did you choose la Place Ville Marie - for those who are not form Montreal PVM is at the center of downtown in front of the Mountain and at the end of the street that leads to where McGill University is plus PVM is about a 15 minutes walk from the Concordia University. These 2 are among the top Universities in Canada and the biggest English Universities in the Province of Quebec -, it is very prestigious to be there.

AT: Yes it is very prestigious to be here plus we are connected to the Underground "City" which helped a lot when the cold wave was here this winter. But most importantly, I beleive that it is not because that employees make a lot money that we have to make then travel far where they are isolated from everything and everyone. We wanted a nice and secure place where they can be proud and please to work at.

LD: Originaly you suppose to develop 1 game now there will be 3, how come ?

AT: We got more applications that we expected plus the talents are so good that we will now work on 3 titles.

LD: I said to Alain you must be quite proud of yourself to have chosen Montreal and very please with the responce so far ?

AT: Alain to me modestly, thre credit goes to the employees that are doing all the work and yes I am very please on how everything is developing now.

LD: Can you tell me what games you are working on now ?

AT: I am not at liberty to tell you the exact tilte now but I can tell this; like Vancouver focus on sports game here in Montreal we will focus on Action-Adventure games. We are actually working on 2 titles that are presently being developed in 2 other studios plus we will have an original title as well.

LD: Will you announce them before E3 and if not, are going to show them at E3 ?

AT: Nothing will known before E3, they are 2 titles that we will show at E3 but the original title is doubtful at this time that we will be able to show it.

LD: I wanted to know why his employes were so happy with their salary plan so what are you doing that is diffenrent then the other companies.

AT: Well first of all, we do not lock in our employees in a contract if they want to leave they can leave and they all get Stock Options so that they can fell they are working for themself.

At the end of our conversation I asked Alain what does he want the world to know about the Electronic Arts studio in Montreal

Alain told me about his vision of Montreal in the future. He said like Hollywood is the town for movies I want when someone heres the name Montreal to thinks of it as an exiting place where we make great games.

I always say to someone who does not know Montreal that Montreal is the fun town of Canada so no wonder EA came here and Alain agreed with me plus he added that because of our location we attract worker from Europe and the west Canada and everryone on the East coast like New-York. One important thing he added was with EA here they are doing a reverse the braindrain like many leave Montreal and the surrounding to go to California for a career in the video game industry now they can stay here and live in a nice town and work at a pleasant place.

Presently they have 40 workers, they are planning to have like 70-75 by June and probably like an 100 by the end of the year. The first phase of their studios will be 25,000 square feet. Alain is still looking for good talent; “We have received thousands of applications,however, we are still looking for game designers, level designers and modelers. In fact, interested applicants can send their résumés to montrealjobs@ea.com. We’d be interested to hear from qualified candidates whether for our operations here in Montreal or elsewhere in the world.”

In conclusion, Electronic Arts always been known around the world with their outstanding games but this time they will be known as the company that gave the Montreal workers that make the games an oppotunity of a livetime not only to work on creating games in their home town but now the world will look at Montreal in a different way. Electronic Arts is known has the leader in its field hopefully Alain's vision of Montreal will become alive :)

I already made plans to meet Alain in LA at the E3, there he will show me the 2 new titles plus when we came back I go back to the studio to make previews on the incoming titles.

For those who are not familiar with Electronic Arts here are their logos plus their Corporate Backgrounder and Fact Sheet;

Founded in 1982, Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS) is the world’s leader in developing, marketing, publishing and distributing interactive software games playable by consumers on different platforms: home videogame machines; personal computers; hand-held game machines, and online, over the Internet.

Approximately 4,000 employees with over 1,300 in Canada.

Development Studios:

Burnaby and Vancouver (British Columbia), Montreal (Quebec), Chertsey and Warrington (UK), Tokyo (Japan) HeadRedwood Shores and Los Angeles (California), Maitland (Florida), Chicago, (Illinois).

Sales and distribution facilities:

Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Europe (UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland).

Representative offices:

Hong Kong and Beijing (China)

Distribution Centre:

Louisville (Kentucky)

Revenues fiscal 2003:

US $2.5 billion

Estimated revenues fiscal 2004:

US$2.91 –US$2.93 billion

EA offers products under three major brands: EA GAMES™, EA SPORTS™ and EA SPORTS BIG™.

In the last twelve months, EA had 27 platinum titles – each selling more than 1 million units – up from 22 one year ago.

Top sellers are:

EA SPORTS™ – Madden NFL™ 2004, NBA LIVE 2004, FIFA Soccer 2004

EA GAMES™ – Harry Potter™: Quidditch™ World Cup, James Bond 007™, Nightfire™, The Sims™, Lord of the Rings Return of the King.

EA SPORTS BIG™ – Def Jam Vendetta, NBA STREET, Volume 2

A fourth logo, POGO™, offers free games online geared towards family entertainment.





Tous droits réservés - All rights reserved.
Copyright ©1998 - 2004 - LadyDragon.com