A staple I do in all interviews in order to start things off is to ask that you elaborate a bit about your projects for those unfamiliar with the studio?
Max: I founded Certain Affinity in 2006 as a bootstrap startup, and today we're the largest independent game developer in Austin, Texas, with more than 170 full-time employees (and another 50+ planned for Toronto). Over the past 12 years we’ve developed or co-developed 29 products across 12 different franchises, including “Call of Duty,” “Halo,” “DOOM,” and “Left 4 Dead.”
It’s great that the new studio is opening in Canada, any particular reason why the location was chosen and do you believe the local community and culture will be beneficial to the studio?
Max: Toronto has an amazing amount of talent with art, programming, and game development degrees and/or professional experience, and an untapped potential to do more core game/AAA game development. This definitely piqued our interest, as we saw an opportunity to fill a gap in the Toronto job market. Additionally, Toronto in many ways is culturally similar to Austin. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Canada’s immigration policies are very accommodating for technology workers, that Ontario offers generous tax incentives, or that there is a daily direct flight between Austin and Toronto.
Certain Affinity has a history of co-development, is this business model going to continue or will there be a shift towards more of a lead development setup?
Max: A co-dev business model has allowed us to run an unusually stable, perpetually growing, consistently profitable business for over a decade. It has also allowed us to work on some of the biggest games in the world, and hand-in-hand with some of the best developers.
We absolutely see this side of our business continuing, but two years ago we made a strategic decision to shift a majority of our work to lead game development, with a model of developing games as a service -- games that are available online and continuously updated with new features and content. Our Toronto studio will initially support the Austin studio’s ongoing lead development of a very ambitious, but not yet announced, original action game.
What do you feel are some of the main goals of opening this new studio, and what elements of Certain Affinity do you feel would be most attractive to possible developers in that local area?
Max: Certain Affinity is growing, and we knew that we needed a second office to achieve our ambitious hiring goals. Toronto was the ideal location for this growth -- with its amazing talent pool and its cultural similarity to Austin of a diverse populace, a strong sense of community, a high quality-of-life standard and some of the world’s finest food.
For prospective employees, Certain Affinity has a stellar reputation, both in Austin and in the game industry, as an unusually stable, quality employer, offering all full-time employees industry-leading benefits and generous profit sharing. (Fun Fact: Our independent company has grown every year since its founding and we have never had a layoff.)
There’s no end to Certain Affinity’s growth in sight as we shift more and more into lead development of major multiplatform titles. As a result, we're seeking a large number of skilled and passionate team members to join us in both Austin and Toronto, including artists, engineers, designers, producers, and more. Anyone interested can see a list of current job openings at certainaffinity.com/careers. If you don’t see what you like, consider applying via our general application, or check back, as new jobs are posted weekly.
Lastly, I would like to leave a spot for you to say something or go over anything I might have missed during the interview?
Max: As a co-development partner we haven’t always been front and center showcasing our work, but if you are an FPS fan chances are you have played and enjoyed some of what we have created. Now that we're taking the lead on development for large titles, we will soon be stepping into the spotlight and we're very excited to finally talk about our own games. Toronto is a crucial part of our growth and strategy. This is the perfect time to join and help us take the world by storm!
Without extraordinarily talented people, we would not succeed. We are thrilled to be going international and setting up our second studio in Toronto, which similar to Austin, is a great place to live, work and plant roots.
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