Square Enix Montreal

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Square Enix Montreal
Industry Video game industry
FoundedNovember 21, 2011;7 years ago (2011-11-21)
FounderLee Singleton
Key people
Patrick Naud (studio head)
ProductsGo series
Number of employees
40 (2016)
Parent Square Enix Europe
Website square-enix-montreal.com

Square Enix Montreal is a Montreal-based studio under video game developer Square Enix best known for creating the Go series of turn-based puzzle games for smartphones and tablets based on former Eidos Interactive intellectual properties. Founded in November 2011 as a traditional studio with plans to create a new Hitman series game for consoles and employ several hundred people, its mandate changed in 2013 when it became its parent company's choice studio to produce mobile games, beginning with the Hitman franchise. The company developed prototypes for two mobile Hitman games, which became the board game-inspired puzzle game Hitman Go (2014) and the shooter Hitman: Sniper (2015). The commercial success of the latter and the critical success of the former led to two additional titles in the Go series: Lara Croft Go (2015), based on the Tomb Raider series, and Deus Ex Go (2016), based on the Deus Ex series.

Square Enix Japanese video game developer, publisher, and distribution company

Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd. is a Japanese video game developer, publisher, and distribution company known for its Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts role-playing video game franchises, among numerous others. Several of them have sold over 10 million copies worldwide, with the Final Fantasy franchise alone selling over 115 million. The Square Enix headquarters are in the Shinjuku Eastside Square Building in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The company employs over 4300 employees worldwide.

Hitman is a stealth video game series developed by the Danish company IO Interactive, previously published by Eidos Interactive and Square Enix. IO Interactive remained a subsidiary of Square Enix until 2017, when Square Enix started seeking sellers for the studio, IO Interactive completed a management buyout, regaining their independent status and retaining the rights for Hitman, in June 2017. The series is available on Microsoft Windows as well as several video game consoles, including the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The franchise also includes two novels and a graphic novel: Hitman: Enemy Within written by William C. Dietz, followed by Hitman: Damnation written by Raymond Benson, as well as a comic prequel Agent 47: Birth Of A Hitman.

Board game game that involves counters or pieces moved or placed on a pre-marked surface or "board", according to a set of rules

A board game is a tabletop game that involves counters or pieces moved or placed on a pre-marked surface or "board", according to a set of rules. Some games are based on pure strategy, but many contain an element of chance; and some are purely chance, with no element of skill.



Video game developer Square Enix announced the opening of Square Enix Montreal on November 21, 2011, aiming to debut operations in 2012 with 150 employees headed by Lee Singleton, a former general manager at Square Enix London Studios. [1] [2] The new studio was founded to create high-production quality (AAA) titles within Square Enix intellectual properties. [3] Its first project was a new Hitman series game for home consoles, to be co-developed with another Square Enix subsidiary, IO Interactive of Denmark, which created the series and was at work on Hitman: Absolution (2012). [3] [4] Square Enix Montreal began with four staff members—Singleton and three developers from IO Interactive—but planned to grow beyond the single Hitman team to have multiple concurrent projects with up to 150 employees. Singleton planned a slow design process, with no rush to production. The studio also received support from the Quebecois government. [3]

AAA is an informal classification used for video games produced and distributed by a mid-sized or major publisher, typically having higher development and marketing budgets. AAA is analogous to the film industry term "blockbuster".

IO Interactive A/S is a Danish video game developer based in Copenhagen, best known for creating and developing the Hitman franchise. IO Interactive employs 170 people as of October 2016, and operates a Malmö-based studio, IOI Malmö, since January 2019.

<i>Hitman: Absolution</i> action-adventure stealth video game

Hitman: Absolution is a stealth video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix. It is the fifth installment in the Hitman series, and runs on IO Interactive's proprietary Glacier 2 game engine. Before release, the developers stated that Absolution would be easier to play and more accessible, while still retaining hardcore aspects of the franchise. The game was released on 20 November 2012 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. On 15 May 2014 Hitman: Absolution — Elite Edition was released for OS X by Feral Interactive; it contained all previously released downloadable content, including Hitman: Sniper Challenge, a "making of" documentary, and a 72-page artbook.

Spurred by company-wide changes beginning late the next year and Square Enix's decision to designate a studio to focus on mobile games, Square Enix Montreal pivoted to mobile game development with an emphasis on the Hitman franchise and tablet computers in June 2013. [5] [6] Patrick Naud became its director. [5] The studio quietly cancelled its work on the Hitman console game, [4] [7] and many employees left to work on AAA titles elsewhere. Those who stayed became vested in the ethos of a smaller studio, and left their siloed specialty areas to work as generalists across specialties, as necessitated by smaller teams. [6] [8] The company spent two weeks designing proposals for mobile Hitman series games, which led to Hitman Go (2014) and Hitman: Sniper (2015). The former began the Go series of highly manicured, turn-based, board game-style puzzle video games, while the latter more closely resembled a traditional mobile game in which players competitively shoot targets through a sniper rifle scope. Though Hitman Go and the subsequent Lara Croft Go (2015, based on the Tomb Raider series) received awards, critical acclaim, and modest sales, Hitman: Sniper became the studio's revenue generator. [6]

<i>Hitman Go</i> 2014 video game

Hitman Go is a turn-based puzzle video game developed by Square Enix Montreal and published by Square Enix. Announced in February 2014, the game was released for iOS in April 2014 and for Android in June 2014. Windows and Windows Phone versions were released the following year in April 2015. In February 2016, a "Definitive Edition" version was released on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and on Linux and Windows via Steam. It is the first game developed by Square Enix Montreal, a studio founded in 2011. Development entered full production in 2013 and was completed by eleven people using the Unity game engine.

<i>Hitman: Sniper</i>

Hitman: Sniper is a 2015 mobile shooting gallery video game in the Hitman series by Square Enix Montreal. As the series' mainstay protagonist Agent 47, the player looks through a first-person sniper scope vision on their touchscreen device to assassinate several powerful figures who have assembled at a lakeside compound without alerting their associates. The player uses the environment to find creative ways to kill these targets, sometimes prompted by secondary objectives. Through mission progression, the player unlocks more powerful weapons and new weapon abilities.

A turn-based strategy (TBS) game is a strategy game where players take turns when playing. This is distinguished from real-time strategy (RTS), in which all players play simultaneously.

This work was novel in an industry where major companies created free-to-play games rather than small games with small teams. [6] But the two styles of mobile games—opposite ends of indie and AAA development cultures—clashed, and divided the studio's internal identity. They intended to resolve this conflict with Deus Ex Go (2016), whose development team was split evenly between the Go series and Sniper staff and intended to mix the "tight, hand-crafted feel" of the former with the "ongoing updates" of the latter. [6] The studio employed about 40 people at the time of Deus Ex Go's release, who clustered together in a space once designed for several hundred people. The company has not released information on its future plans, though based on Square Enix's philosophy of each studio covering its own niche well, they are expected to continue making mobile games. Recent hires include indie developers from games including Hyper Light Drifter and Fez . [6]

<i>Deus Ex Go</i>

Deus Ex Go is a 2016 turn-based puzzle video game in the Deus Ex series by Square Enix. The player uses a touchscreen to move Adam Jensen, a protagonist from the cyberpunk-themed series, as a puzzle piece through a board game while avoiding obstacles and manipulating the environment. In-keeping with the main series, Jensen can hack environmental features such as turrets and platforms to bypass and eliminate enemies. The game follows the format of Hitman Go (2014) and Lara Croft Go (2015), in which Square Enix Montreal distilled major motifs from the games' respective series to fit turn-based, touchscreen, puzzle gameplay. New to the Go series, Deus Ex Go introduced an in-game story and puzzle creation mode. Deus Ex Go was released in August 2016, for Android and iOS platforms to generally favorable reviews. The game was later ported to Microsoft platforms. Critics wrote that the game successfully captured the cybernetic dystopia of the Deus Ex series and the brain teasing puzzles of the Go mobile game series. But compared to the other entries in the Go series, reviewers considered Deus Ex Go's to be less creative, with a lackluster story, less visually interesting aesthetic, and shorter length.

<i>Hyper Light Drifter</i> Action role-playing game

Hyper Light Drifter is a 2D action role-playing game developed by Heart Machine. The game pays homage to 8-bit and 16-bit games, and is considered by its lead developer Alex Preston as a combination of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Diablo. Preston originally launched Kickstarter funding for the title for approximately US$27,000 to develop the title for Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux computers, but ended up with more than US$600,000, allowing him to hire more programmers and artists, and expanding the title for console and portable platforms through stretch goals. Though originally scoped for release in 2014, various improvements in the game and issues with Preston's health set the release back. The Microsoft Windows, Linux and OS X versions were released in March 2016, and the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions in July 2016. A Nintendo Switch version was released on September 6, 2018.

<i>Fez</i> (video game) video game

Fez is an indie puzzle-platform video game developed by Polytron Corporation and published by Trapdoor. The player-character Gomez receives a fez that reveals his two-dimensional (2D) world to be one of four sides of a three-dimensional (3D) world. The player rotates between these four 2D views to realign platforms and solve the game's puzzles. The object of the game is to collect cubes and cube fragments to restore order to the universe.

Go series

Square Enix Montreal's Go series of turn-based puzzle games for smartphones and tablets released to high praise. Ryan McCaffrey of IGN wrote that the first two releases were the "smartest" mobile games of any console franchise. [9] Sam Loveridge of Digital Spy summarized the series as immensely successful. [10] The games use simple touchscreen gameplay mechanics to move the main characters from each screen around a minimalist board game-like puzzle. [10] With each entry, Square Enix Montreal distills and reinterprets the parent series' essential gameplay elements for the board game format. [11] Hitman Go was released in 2014, Lara Croft Go (of the Tomb Raider series) in 2015, and Deus Ex Go of the Deus Ex series in 2016. [10] The studio released documentary videos on their Go series development process. [12]

<i>IGN</i> American entertainment website

IGN is an American video game and entertainment media website operated by IGN Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of Ziff Davis, itself wholly owned by j2 Global. The company is located in San Francisco's SOMA district and is headed by its former editor-in-chief, Peer Schneider. The IGN website was the brainchild of media entrepreneur Chris Anderson and launched on September 29, 1996. It focuses on games, films, television, comics, technology, and other media. Originally a network of desktop websites, IGN is now also distributed on mobile platforms, console programs on the Xbox and PlayStation, FireTV, Roku, and via YouTube, Twitch, Hulu, and Snapchat.

Digital Spy is a British-based entertainment, television and film website and brand and is the largest digital property at Hearst UK. Since its launch in 1999, 'DS' has focused on entertainment news related to television programmes, films, music and show business to a global audience. Digital Spy now reaches 23 million unique users per month, making it one of the 150 largest websites in the UK.

<i>Lara Croft Go</i> 2015 video game

Lara Croft Go is a turn-based puzzle video game in the Tomb Raider series. The player moves Lara Croft as a puzzle piece through a board game while avoiding obstacles and manipulating the environment. The developers distilled major series motifs, such as boulder chases and reaction-based gameplay, to suit Lara Croft Go's time-independent gameplay. Square Enix Montreal developed the game as a spiritual successor to its 2014 Hitman Go, based on another Square Enix franchise. The company released Lara Croft Go in August 2015 for Android, iOS, Windows, and Windows Phone devices. A version for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita was unveiled in November 2016. It was released on Steam on 4 December 2016.

The Go games reached a wider audience than Sniper, and half of their players found the games through App Store or friend recommendations. [13] The studio partially attributes their success with the series to their unique position of being able to work with major franchises with the resources of a larger company, while retaining the smaller size and flexibility of an independent development studio. [6] They also viewed the critical response to Deus Ex Go as an indication that the studio had thrice succeeded on its intention to translate an older console intellectual property to mobile with its own personality. [13] Square Enix Montreal sees their work as the converging intersection between Square Enix's AAA tradition and reputable mobile games. [14]

In June 2018, studio head Patrick Naud said that they have disconnected work on the Go series. Naud said that the series "was a great adventure for us as a studio", but that the premium mobile returns were disappointing, saying "it's sad to see that our games are only played by a small slither of the population because of the price point". [15] The studio does plan to continue to work in the mobile space, with Naud stating their intent to make "high-end, high-quality pristine mobile experiences" from either existing or new intellectual property. [15]

Games developed

And iOS WP Win Mac Lin PS4 Vita
2014 Hitman Go YesYesYesYesNoYesYesYes
2015 Hitman: Sniper YesYesNoNoNoNoNoNo
Lara Croft Go YesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
2016 Deus Ex Go YesYesYesYesNoNoNoNo

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Square Enix Limited, doing business as Square Enix Europe, is a British video game publisher, acting as the European subsidiary of Square Enix. The company was founded as Domark in 1984, named after the founders Mark Strachan and Dominic Wheatley. In 1995, the company was acquired by Eidos and was merged with two other studios and renamed Eidos Interactive the following year. Eidos was in turn acquired by SCi in 2005, and Eidos Interactive was sold to Square Enix in 2009. On 9 November 2009, Square Enix completed the merger of its existing European branch with Eidos Interactive, renaming the resulting company Square Enix Europe.

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  2. Rose, Mike (November 21, 2011). "Square Enix Opening Second Montreal Studio For New Hitman, Creating 250 Jobs". Gamasutra .
  3. 1 2 3 Nutt, Christian (November 21, 2011). "Interview: Inside Square Enix's Major Montreal Expansion". Gamasutra . Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  4. 1 2 3 Ray Corriea, Alexa (January 6, 2014). "Report: Next-gen Hitman canceled, studio working on new action title (update)". Polygon . Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  5. 1 2 Ray Corriea, Alexa (June 21, 2013). "Square Enix makes leadership changes to all studios, new AAA Hitman project in development". Polygon . Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Webster, Andrew (August 18, 2016). "Enter the studio turning Deus Ex and Lara Croft into awesome mobile games". The Verge . Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  7. IO Interactive assumed a similar project. [4]
  8. Francis, Bryant (August 18, 2016). "How Square Enix Montreal acts like an indie to make its mobile games". Gamasutra . Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  9. McCaffrey, Ryan (June 8, 2016). "E3 2016: Deus Ex Go Is a Hack-and-Swipe Deus Ex Adventure". IGN . Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  10. 1 2 3 Loveridge, Sam (June 8, 2016). "Deus Ex GO preview: another mobile game success?". Digital Spy . Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  11. Clark, Willie (August 4, 2016). "How Square Enix brought Deus Ex to mobile". ZAM. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  12. Dotson, Carter (March 15, 2017). "Square Enix Montreal Releases 'Deus Ex GO' Trilogy Stories Video". TouchArcade. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  13. 1 2 Batchelor, James (February 3, 2017). "'There's room for high-quality mobile games, and they don't need to be free-to-play'". GamesIndustry.biz . Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  14. Sarkar, Samit (February 22, 2016). "Hitman Go devs on the craftsmanship that goes into making 'nice mobile games'". Polygon . Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  15. 1 2 Calvin, Alex (June 1, 2018). "Square Enix Montreal no longer working on the Go series". PocketGamer.biz . Retrieved June 1, 2018.