Embracer Group subsidiary Amplifier Game Invest has established a new studio in Montreal called Goose Byte.
Former Ubisoft producer Theodor Diea and former Ubisoft technical lead Nathan Ross Powell will lead the new opening, which will utilize an investment model that sees Amplifier fund the company and offer production support while the dev team shapes the broader creative direction.
More specifically, that means Amplifier holds 100 percent equity in the studio and will own all of Goose Byte's projects and franchises. Assuming the nascent studio creates a hit, a revenue share agreement will allow the team to share in a portion of that success whenever a title becomes profitable, while they'll also be handed a hefty helping of autonomy, including the ability to shape employee contracts and take advantage of unlimited paid vacation, unlimited paid time off, and unlimited paid sick days.
Both Diea and Ross Powell will form the "organizational and technical core of the studio," and explained the company has been built "around the concepts of trust, respect, inclusivity, sustainability, and a healthy dose of ambition."
Talking to Game Developer about what that slogan means in real terms, Diea suggested those core pillars will empower employees to find a work routine that suits them, and will create a nebulous structure that trusts workers to essentially manage themselves.
"I strongly believe that a great studio is a place where people come together to achieve ambitious goals in a respective, collaborative manner. A studio should not be a place where authority figures dictate stringent policies on how people should live their lives," said Diea.
"Freedom is a big one for me. My family was given asylum from a repressive Communist regime. I also grew up in Texas, where freedom is fiercely valued. I have an allergic reaction to unearned or meaningless authority. I strongly believe that a great studio is a place where people come together to achieve ambitious goals in a respective, collaborative manner."
Diea added that Goose Byte employees will be "free to choose how and from where they wish to work," whether that means working exclusively from home or pursuing a hybrid model.
When asked about the topic of diversity and inclusion, Diea called out the homogenous nature of the games industry, and said Goose Byte is committed to "being an equal opportunity, equal pay employer and have a 'zero tolerance' policy on harassment, bullying, and discrimination, and crunch."
"We believe that we will be a stronger, more competitive team by bringing people together from different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. We absolutely commit to being an equal opportunity, equal pay employer and have a zero tolerance policy on harassment, bullying, and discrimination," continued Diea.
"Crunch is the sorry excuse that poor management makes to justify forced labor in the 21st century. I said earlier that we have a zero tolerance policy towards bullying. Well, crunch is bullying. It’s a company or manager, in an unequal power relationship with an employee, that is either forcing, coercing, or pressuring someone to do something they don’t want to be doing. It’s insane that this is still happening in our industry. We are absolutely an anti-crunch culture."
Despite candid comments about D&I earlier in our chat, the studio neglected to answer a question asking what specific protocols and policies it would be implementing to ensure the wellbeing of Goose Byte employees is protected, with that line of enquiry referencing the wave of harassment allegations at major companies like Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard.
Although its debut project remains under wraps, Goose Byte told Game Developer it's currently working on a title in the "open-world survival craft" genre for PC and consoles. According to Ross Powell, the studio hopes the game will "challenge the norm" by offering a full-immersive UX from start to finish.
"We will really want to explore how players can interact in positive and playful ways. From our time working on mobile titles we've learned that having a second gear is really important. Some examples of this meta-gaming would be redeeming rewards from your successful matches, refreshing leaderboards, checking out a replay or two; a little break that can inspire your next 'in-game goals'," he commented.
"In our first title you'll be switching gears from some frantic real time gameplay driven survival to a slower place restriction free creative workshop. Here there is lots of opportunity to weave in async social interactions revolving around in-game creations. This is the foundation for the type of social space we'd like to create. A place where you'd find like minded people, be inspired, or even become someone else's in-game architectural hero."