While others are shutting down, Microsoft opens Black Tusk Studios in Vancouver
"While console video game companies have been shutting their Vancouver studios, a handful of Microsoft game developers have been quietly building a presence in Yaletown.
Today they are taking the wraps off the venture, which started with five people and grew to 55 before getting the official go-ahead from Microsoft’s head office to launch as a separate game studio, Black Tusk.
“It is a good news story for us,” said studio manager Mike Crump. “We’re excited about the opportunities here, we think Vancouver has a bright future.”
The launch should also spell good news for job seekers in Vancouver’s hard-hit console video game sector. The division’s website, blacktuskstudios.com, includes job listings for everyone from engineers to designers, and Black Tusk plans to double its numbers within a year.
“We are actively recruiting,” said Crump, who added the studio has outgrown its Cambie Street location and will be moving to take over two floors on Beatty Street, where Microsoft’s Big Park studio is located.
Black Tusk had its start when Crump and four others, all alumni of Electronic Arts, took over a floor at Microsoft’s Cambie Street location about a year ago and started planning for the studio, which will focus on the Xbox 360 video game console.
Studio staff have an average of 12 years experience in triple-A games, the industry’s equivalent of Hollywood summer blockbuster movies — “big games, big teams, big budgets, long timelines,” said Crump.
“What that means is we are working on Microsoft’s next big entertainment franchise,” he said. “We’re not working on an existing franchise, we’re looking to build the next Halo here in Vancouver, for example, which is really exciting. We are building something from the ground up."