Paris-based video game developer and publisher Quantic Dream has opened a new studio in Montreal.
The office will be located in a completely renovated building in the city’s historic Atwater Avenue district.
Stéphane D’Astous, the founder of Square Enix-owned studio Eidos Montreal, has been appointed general manager of Quantic Dream’s Montreal studio.
Quantic Dream is best known for its work on choice-based, narrative-driven PlayStation games like Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and, most recently, Detroit: Become Human. However, as of 2019, the French company will no longer make games exclusively for PlayStation consoles.
Speaking exclusively to IGN, D’Astous said the Montreal studio will serve as an extension of the company’s Paris-based location, rather than its own entity.
According to D’Astous, Montreal and Paris are seen as “one unified body located in two regional hubs,” so they will collaborate on “the same new unannounced AAA title.” Quantic Dream didn’t provide any details on the mysterious new game, although it did confirm that, Yohan Cazaux, project lead designer on Ubisoft Montreal’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, has joined the Montreal studio to work on it.
The Montreal studio will also help Quantic Dream as a whole establish a publishing presence in North America. Currently, the company is working with European developers Jo-Mei studio and Red Thread Games to publish their respective games Sea of Solitude: The Director’s Cut and Dustborn.
During the interview, IGN also asked Quantic Dream founder David Cage about how the company will address concerns in the workplace going forward. In January 2018, French media outlets Le Monde, Canard PC and Mediapart all published reports alleging a toxic workplace culture at Quantic Dream.
Cage, who also writes and directs each of the studio’s games, was at the centre of the reports alongside executive producer Guillaume de Fondaumière.
Cage and de Fondaumière are both said to have fostered a sexist, racist and homophobic culture where images for studio collaborators and employees were reportedly digitally edited to appear as Nazis or porn stars and shared around the office. This lines up with earlier reports that Halifax-born actor Elliot Page, who starred in 2013’s Beyond: Two Souls,explored legal action against Quantic Dream for creating a nude in-game model of him without consent.
Studio management was also accused of adopting a “crunch policy,” where employees work prolonged overtime on a game,” while human resources reportedly violated French labour laws by terminating fixed-term contracts before these deals expired.
A former IT head filed a complaint about an alleged photoshopped image of him doing a Nazi salute, which led to the matter being brought to a Parisian labour tribunal. Ultimately, the Paris Labor Court awarded the former employee €7,000 (about $10,700 CAD), although Quantic Dream claimed the fine was for an undisclosed “security violation,” not concerns pertaining to workplace conditions.
Speaking to IGN, Cage once again denied the allegations, stating they have been “indisputably proven wrong by verifiable facts, independent audits, the French Labor Court, state agencies, independent journalistic investigations, and by our employees themselves.”
Beyond that, Cage says Montreal employees will be able to take part in a shareholder program to own 10 percent of the company’s capital, just like Paris-based staff have been offered. Further, Cage says there will be dedicated representatives to hear issues anonymously, while a third-party will investigate the company every year.
In Montreal, specifically, Cage added that there will be a dedicated human resource team “operating locally whose mission is to specifically ensure that any workplace issues that may arise are dealt with in a swift and professional manner.”
Finally, Cage said management in both Paris and Montreal will also undergo harassment training “to be best prepared, to better know, to identify, and to best react to such incidents, if they ever were to happen at our studio.”
For now, Quantic Dream is currently hiring for several roles at the Montreal studio, including senior gameplay animator, lead gameplay/system designer and lead programmer. Those interested in learning more can do so here.