Canadian Game Developer Snatches Major Indie Talent from LA

This week the internet exploded with news that Montreal, Square Enix Montreal—the Canadian arm of a Japanese studio—has stolen an idol from the Los Angeles Indie Game Dev world. Teddy Dief, most notably of Hyper Light Drifter fame, announced via twitter this morning that he would be making the opposite move to the norm, which may be an even greater expression of his Indie Roots than we think.

Coming off the success of Hyper Light Drifter, the move has surprised many of his fans.

“I am immensely excited and terrified… because I have major news to announce. There has been a lot going on in my life with the release of Hyper Light Drifter — an outpouring of love from friends, fans and critics — it has been overwhelmingly humbling and joyous. But with that momentous release raises questions of “what’s next?” Today I am finally ready to say what’s next for me: I will be joining the incredible team at Square Enix Montréal, as a Creative Director!” wrote Dief on his Blog.

In the past, it is normally the AAA developers that lose hyper-talent to the idea of making it in an “Indie World.” Which evidently, is also something Dief has done in the past. Leaving Microsoft for Disney, then Disney for Indie.

So to see the opposite move (back to AAA) is refreshing. As it’s clear that traits and talents learned in Indie Development are greatly different than those learned in massive studios. Doubly new and mint-flavoured is that a Canadian developer is poaching American talent.

It’s also odd to see the success of an indie title launch not beget more from that indie collective. But as Dief explains, this is just as surprising to him.

“To be perfectly honest, this opportunity blindsided me. I have been fiercely independent now since 2011 when I left Disney Interactive to found Rad Dragon and eventually join Heart Machine. I figured that after shipping Hyper Light, I’d either make a new thing with Heart Machine, or start a different indie game,” wrote Dief.

This speaks volumes as to the team being put together at Square Enix MTL. They have amassed a mind-boggling amount of talent among their ranks, and it continues to grow like the planting of a good idea. Speaking of good ideas, SqenixMTL has been on fire as of late. With their massively successful mobile games Lara Croft GO (pretty much snagged every award given to a mobile game) and Hitman GO, and along with Hitman: Sniper they’re paving the way for immersive legacy franchise mobile experiences. Something to behold for sure.

It’s unclear as to what the “New Project” that Dief will be directing is, but that won’t stop me from taking a wild stab at it.

Possible unannounced Square Enix MTL titles:

  • Deus Ex GO
  • LIFE IS STRANGE 2 (Mobile)
  • Final Fantasy GO
  • Lara Croft Mobile Adventure Game

Just to name a few. Who knows what Dief and the team at Square Enix Montreal will be working on, but time may tell. Bringing Dief on mid-developevent would seem like such a counter-productive move, so it is safe to assume that development of this unannounced title has still yet to begin (beyond brainstorming).

We wish Teddy Dief the best of luck on his move, and harsh weather acclimatization, and hope to see a lot more of this northern movement from amazing talent such as the Hyper Light Drifter designer.