EA's Montreal studio is reorganizing, with a change of focus from AAA titles like Army of Two (a game it developed) to more social and mobile game properties. Earlier reports, citing inside sources, had speculated that EA would lay off around 50 employees from the studio, but it is believed that many of those employees have simply been reassigned to other studios within EA's studio system. Naturally some people were laid off, but the extent of those layoffs remains unknown as of this writing.
Earlier this week it was revealed that Silicon Knights had not received grant money from the Canadian government that was announced on July 14, 2011. In a "he said, she said" moment, SK front man Dennis Dyack tells GamesIndustry International that he just doesn't understand why the Canadian government is holding out on the grant money. The Canadian government attempts to explain the hold-up, which Dyack then denies.
While criticizing the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) seems to be a frequent activity for many Canadians unhappy with the way it deals with problems related to broadcast media and the Internet, Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa Michael Geist recently penned an editorial praising the commission.
Electronic Arts has confirmed that it has laid off a number of its staff at EA Canada. The company would not disclose just how many employees were affected by the layoffs. The cuts are part of a restructuring plan at the Vancouver office and its studio in nearby Burnaby. That studio is responsible for the development of such titles as Need For Speed: The Run and FIFA 12.
The Entertainment Consumer Association has issued an action alert, a call to arms to let lawmakers in Canada know that C-11, an act to amend the Copyright Act, must remove a provision that makes "jailbreaking" illegal. While the amendment to existing copyright law in Canada isn't as strict or over reaching as SOPA and PIPA, it does contain some questionable provisions that could hurt consumers.
Another day, another group of government officials pushing anti-piracy laws while they are blissfully unaware that their staffers are downloading stolen games, movies and other forms of entertainment. This time out it's the Canadian Conservative majority government. Recently the ruling party in Canada introduced the Canadian Copyright Modernization Act Bill C-11, which would criminalize the act of software circumventing - including the making available to the public software or techniques used to circumvent digital rights management software locks.
The Quebec Court of Appeal for the District of Montreal has ruled in favor of THQ Montreal and its parent company. The decision strikes down a provisional injunction obtained by Ubisoft that temporarily prohibited THQ from soliciting Ubisoft employees who were bound by a non-compete provision with Ubisoft. The lawsuit was filed by Ubisoft after THQ announced that developer Patrice Désilets had joined the studio to create a new intellectual property after he resigned as Creative Director of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise.
While the United States has groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation to fight against unfair copyright law and government encroachment on internet freedoms, Canada has the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC for short). CIPPIC will be making oral arguments in what it calls the "Copyright Pentology" - five copyright cases that the Supreme Court of Canada will hear from December 6-7.
Jason Koblovsky's blog reports that the Canadian Gamers Organization’s (CGO) current battle against ISP Rogers has had some good fortune this week. The CRTC sent a letter to the CGO this week stating that its complaint against Rogers limiting access to online games would be moved to its enforcement division for further action.
The demand for modern day weaponry is apparently on the rise in Canada, and video games are the reason why, according to a report in The Times Colonist. The paper of note for Newfoundland notes that the tastes of Canadian gun owners has shifted from firearms associated with hunting to modern-day, military grade weapons, or what the cool kids call "black rifles."
The Canadian Gamers Organization (CGO), a group dedicated to fighting for Internet openness in Canada, announced today that it has submitted its final response to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission's (CRTC) request for information. The CGO has waged war against ISP Rogers for "discriminating against online applications—namely World of Warcraft and Call of Duty Black Ops—using illegitimate Internet traffic management practices."
The government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has resubmitted a revision of the Canadian digital copyright law (C-11) to Parliament. The bill is being described by Canadian media as pretty much the same as the previous bill submitted by Harper's government the last time. This time the bill will probably pass.
The Canadian government’s telecommunications regulator has had enough of Internet service provider Rogers Communications throttling online game connections. The ISP tried to provide a reason but the government seems unsatisfied with the answer. The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission has given the company until September 27 to put together a plan to deal with the problem of game throttling.
While we've often reported favorably on the tax incentives and other perks being handed out to developers to lure them to Canada, there is a consequence to companies overseas in countries such as the United Kingdom. Those consequences are being felt by employees of Games outsource firm Babel Media, who are in the midst of moving their operations from Brighton to Montreal. Those employees that want to stay with the company will either have to relocate or face a layoff, according to a GameIndustry.biz report.
Members of Ontario's "Technology Corridor" attended Gamescom in Cologne, Germany to show their support for the culture, work ethic and incentives the Canadian region provides to developers. Over the past two years, Canada's gaming industry has expanded 11 percent annually and is forecasted to grow 17 percent in each of the next two years. Executives from the Ontario Technology Corridor were at Gamescom to demonstrate the province's "winning combination" of talent and tax credits.
An open letter by Mrs. O. Babiuk of New Westminster, British Columbia - written on behalf of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International - urges (with dramatic flair) Premier Christy Clark to "keep sexually explicit video games away from kids." The letter appeared this week in the Royal City Record newspaper. The group she represents is a professional honorary Society devoted to women educators in British Columbia. In her letter Babiuk asks Clark to take steps to limit the availability of violent and sexually explicit video games as part of the premier's "caring for children and families initiatives."
Two women are going to prison for a September 2010 crash that took the life of a prominent Relic Entertainment developer, injured his pregnant wife and killed two passengers in the woman's Chevy Blazer. The two women were found guilty of three counts of vehicular homicide each, with the driver Jordyn Weichert sentenced to eight years in prison and the passenger Samantha Bowling receiving a five year sentence. Wood was the lead developer on Company of Heroes Online.
The accident happened on Highway 20 near North Whidbey, Washington on September 3, 2010. According to police reports, Weichert tried to remove her sweater while driving her Chevy Blazer, and asked the passenger, Bowling, to steer. This lead to the confusion that caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle, which veered to the left and into oncoming traffic.
Algoma Games for Health, a development team at Algoma University that specializes in developing serious games for educational and rehabilitation purposes, has received a cash injection from Ontario's provincial funding. The team will use the $713,200 to develop a game that will help stroke victims at the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre. The news was announced by MPP David Orazietti. The program will combine video conferencing, voice recognition and therapeutic video games to provide an online platform to help improve speech therapy.
"We are continuing to build on the progress we have made improving health care infrastructure and front-line services in Sault Ste. Marie by making investments that are delivering measurable results, including this initiative that will provide stoke victims with interactive rehabilitation therapy to help improve their quality of life," said Orazietti.
Mass Effect 2, BioWare's popular sci-fi themed RPG sequel, was named Game of the Year at this year's Canadian Videogame Awards, beating out the likes of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, Dead Rising 2, FIFA 11, and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction. Mass Effect 2 also won Console Game of the Year, Best Game Design, and Best Writing. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood from Ubisoft Montreal received two awards - Best Audio and Best Visual Arts. Other winners included Deathspank, Osmos, Pocket God, WOMP!, ModNation Racers, and Kinect.
The full list of winners (and nominees can be found below:
Voting for the Game of the Year category of the 2011 Canadian Videogame Awards is still open to the public for one more day. Voting is open to the public until midnight, Friday, May 13th. The five Game of the Year finalists are Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, Dead Rising 2, FIFA 11, Mass Effect 2, and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction. You can make your selection here. The site apparently allows visitors from outside the country vote.
Awards organizers also announced that tickets are still available for the event that takes place next Wednesday (May 18). The show will be hosted by Victor Lucas and his team from the TV show The Electric Playground. Video Games Live will also be back this year to provide the musical entertainment AND Nintendo will be offering attendees a special opportunity to play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for Nintendo 3DS.
A Canadian teenager was brought to justice by an Xbox 360, Guitar Hero, and an uncle who was already in trouble with the law. The combination has landed the unnamed teenager from Saskatoon, Canada in jail, according to a CBC report. Police had their suspicions that the young man had committed a murder so they approached his uncle to take him down. The murder in question took place in 2009; police allege that the boy murdered 16 year-old Charlotte Jolly with a stolen rifle after a fight in an alley.
The uncle was more than happy to participate in the sting because police promised to drop a drunk driving charge for his help.
Toronto is the location of the latest class action suit against Sony launched on behalf of one million Canadian consumers for security breaches of the company's PlayStation Network and Qricoity. The class action alleges a breach of privacy and negligence on the part of Sony. The class action suit is seeking in excess of $1 billion in damages and is fronted by plaintiff Natasha Maksimovic, a 21-year-old Humber College student. Maksimovic describes herself as an avid PlayStation player and Sony e-reader user.
She filed her suit because she was concerned that Sony's security breach would have a dramatic impact on her privacy and her finances.
"I’m very loyal to Sony," she said in a phone interview with the Star. "I buy a lot of their products. I trust their brand. It’s kind of disappointing. I’m disappointed in the company to have something like this happen."
Canada's Privacy Commissioner is now investigating PlayStation Network security to find out if any privacy laws were violated. Jennifer Stoddart, the current Privacy Commissioner of Canada, will head the investigation. Stoddart said Sony had not notified it of the security breach which involved the theft of personal information and possibly credit card data. Of course, Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act does not require notification in these kinds of events.
Nevertheless, the office of Canada's privacy commissioner says that it plans to look into the matter and expects to hear plenty of complaints from Canadian consumers.
"We are currently looking into this matter and are seeking information from Sony," a spokesperson told Canada.com. "We will determine next steps once we have a full understanding of the incident."
According to a Develop report, Canadian development studio Digital Extremes has been given $2.5 million to move its office and create more jobs. The money comes from the Canadian government. The "provincial grant" allows the studio to add 30 new employees to its 150 strong staff, and to build new game engine technology. Digital Extremes has been tapped to create the next The Darkness game - the first game was created Swedish studio Starbreeze.
A news story from IFPress also reports that the studio will invest $33 million of its own money into its new game engine.
"Right now we can’t hire people fast enough," studio founder James Schmalz said.
Finalists for the Canadian Videogame Awards have been announced. The winners of this year's awards in 12 categories will be revealed in Vancouver on May 18 at the Centre for the Performing Arts. Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and Mass Effect 2 lead the pack with 7 nominations each. Other notable nominations include Dead Rising 2, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction and FIFA 11.
The general public can vote for Canadian Game of the Year at www.canadianvideogameawards.com. The CVA's are sponsored by Kinect for XBOX 360, G4 Canada, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 3DS, Entertainment Software Association of Canada, The Georgia Straight and the Canadian Studios of Electronic Arts.
Full list of finalists in various categories can be found below:
According to a survey in the latest edition of Digital Life Canada quarterly, more Canadian TV's are ready for Internet movie content. Further, game consoles (Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii) are in nearly half of Canadian Internet-enabled households. Of these, over half are Internet enabled and connected to the living room TV for online gaming and movies. Around 23 percent of Canadian households connect a laptop or another computer to their main TVs (8 percent all the time, 15 percent sometimes) when they need to watch something on the big screen.
In total, over one-third (35 percent) of TVs in Canadian households are connected to the Internet at least some of the time, either via game consoles or laptops, and 47 percent of Internet using Canadians say that they now prefer to rent movies online rather than going to the video store (up from 33 percent from a year ago).