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|Industry||Video game industry|
|Headquarters||London, Ontario, Canada|
Number of employees
|Divisions||Digital Extremes Toronto|
Digital Extremes is a Canadian video game developer founded in 1993 by James Schmalz. They are best known for creating Warframe, a free-to-play cooperative online action game, and co-creating Epic Games' Unreal series of games. Digital Extremes is headquartered in London, Ontario. In 2014, 61% of the company was sold to Chinese holding company Multi Dynamic, now Leyou, for $73 million. President Michael Schmalz and two partners retained 39% of Digital Extremes, and will continue to manage it.
Founder James Schmalz created Epic Pinball, published by then shareware publisher, Epic MegaGames. Bolstered from the success of Epic Pinball and the rising technology movement in the mid-'90s toward realistic 3D graphics, Schmalz founded Digital Extremes in 1993 and the company began co-development with Epic on what would become Epic's Unreal franchise.
Unreal a first-person shooter, released in 1998, and was followed up with Unreal Tournament in 1999, which received numerous industry awards. Subsequent sequels in the Unreal franchise, include Unreal Championship, Unreal Tournament 2003, and Unreal Tournament 2004. The Unreal series has sold more than 15 million units worldwide across a multitude of gaming platforms including PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, Xbox, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac and PC.
After years of working in the same universe with Unreal, Digital Extremes broadened its library and technology with development of its original intellectual property, Dark Sector. A third-person shooter, released in 2008 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, Dark Sector used Digital Extremes' proprietary game engine, the Evolution Engine.
Digital Extremes worked with 2K to develop the comic-book franchise video game sequel, The Darkness II, which met with positive reviews. Digital Extremes developed the PlayStation 3 version of BioShock, as well as developed the multiplayer component of the sequel, BioShock 2 while simultaneously developing the multiplayer portion of THQ's first-person shooter Homefront.
In 2016, it was revealed that Digital Extremes' game Warframe had been hacked, exposing the email addresses of more than 700,000 players. On October 6, 2017 it announced the opening a development studio in Toronto set to begin operations the following month. On July 7, 2018, during the third annual Warframe conference, TennoCon, Warframe saw unprecedented Twitch growth with 413,000 viewers (compared to 16,000 from the previous year), and surpassed Fortnite with 409,770 peak concurrent viewers and 2,618,716 total views on Twitch.
Digital Extremes started development of Warframe, a free-to-play title, in 2000. Digital Extremes launched Warframe on the PlayStation 4 in November 2013 and on Xbox One in September 2014. At TennoCon 2018, Digital Extremes announced it would bring Warframe to Nintendo Switch. Digital Extremes continues to refresh this games-as-a-service title on a regular basis with updates including "Plains of Eidolon" (October 2017), "The Sacrifice" (June 2018), "Fortuna" (November 2018) and the upcoming "Project: Railjack" expansion, publishing date pending.
Digital Extremes is working with Madison, Wisconsin-based developer Human Head Studios to publish and develop Survived By, a free-to-play bullet-hell MMO with crafting and role-playing elements. Survived By is in Closed Beta.
Evolution is Digital Extremes' proprietary game engine. The engine made its debut with Dark Sector; and was again utilized in The Darkness II. 2013's Star Trek featured use of the Evolution engine; and the engine is currently in use on the free-to-play online title Warframe, released 2013.
Awards, work environment, and labour disputes
In recent years, Warframe's expansion and popularity has grown, resulting in multiple industry awards. In early 2018, Warframe won the People's Voice Webby Award for Best Action Game, and ProMax's Best Marketing Campaign of the Year Award. In late 2017, Warframe won the Steam Labor of Love award, an award nominated by Steam's internal team, but voted on by players. The award is described by Steam as: "This game has been out for a while. The team is well past the first unveiling of their creative baby, but being the good parents they are, these devs continue to nurture and support their creation. This game, to this day, is still getting new content after all these years." Warframe was nominated in The 2017 Game Awards as one of the Best Ongoing Games, losing to Overwatch.
In March 2018, NoClip, created by former journalist Danny O'Dwyer, published the video documentary on the making of Warframe. The two-part feature tells the story of how Warframe succeeded as an independently developed and published game that changed the course of Digital Extremes.
Digital Extremes employment environment has been recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for 2010, 2011, 2012 and through to 2017. Additionally, the company has been recognized as one of Canada's top employers for Young People. In 2010 and 2011, the Financial Post named Digital Extremes one of the ten best companies to work for in Canada. However, the company has only a 3 star rating on the employer review site Glassdoor, with only 51% of employees saying they would recommend it as a workplace to a friend. On the provincial level, Digital Extremes received the Ontario Small Business Award in 2010. Digital Extremes was also presented with the Large Business of the Year award in 2011 from the London Chamber of Commerce. Digital Extremes was also awarded the Excellence in Human Resources award from The London Chamber of Commerce in early 2012.
In 2011, a quality assurance tester filed a claim with the Ontario Ministry of Labour for alleged working hour violations and unpaid overtime, on the basis that the tester position did not fall under an "Information Technology Professional" exemption from working hour and overtime pay regulations. The Ministry upheld the claim and Digital Extremes complied with its judgment without contest, re-imbursing the employee for unpaid overtime.
|2001||Adventure Pinball: Forgotten Island||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|2002||Unreal Tournament 2003||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|2004||Unreal Tournament 2004||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|2008||BioShock (PS3 port)||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|2010||BioShock 2 (multiplayer)||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
|2012||The Darkness II||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
|2015||Sword Coast Legends||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||No|
|2017||The Amazing Eternals||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No|
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- Canada's Top 100 (September 19, 2011). "Canada's Top 100 Employers for Young People". Canadastop100.com. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- Canada's Top 100 (February 1, 2011). "Financial Post's Ten Best Companies To Work For". Canadastop100.com. Retrieved March 13, 2012.
- "Working at Digital Extremes". Glassdoor.
- Jody Lundrigan (September 16, 2010). "Twelve Ontario Businesses Named Winners of Business and Export Excellence". Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- London Chamber of Commerce. "Business Achievement Awards – Business of the Year Hall of Fame".
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- Ontario Ministry of Labour. "Ontario Ministry of Labour Employment Standards Ruling" (PDF).