Digital Extremes

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Digital Extremes
Industry Video game industry
Founded 1993
Headquarters London, Ontario, Canada
Number of employees

Digital Extremes is a Canadian computer and video game developer founded in 1993 by James Schmalz, best known for its co-creation of Epic Games' highly successful Unreal series of games. Digital Extremes is headquartered in London, Ontario.


Founder James Schmalz began developing games at the age of 12, creating an Ultima clone called Sorcery on an Apple IIe computer. From there, he continued dabbling with game development through his University years at University of Waterloo. Upon graduation, left with a choice between a full-time paid engineering position and the option of self-employed game developer, Schmalz chose the latter and created Epic Pinball, published by then shareware publisher, Epic Megagames. Bolstered from the success of Epic Pinball [1] and the rising technology movement in the mid-90's toward realistic 3D graphics, Schmalz officially founded Digital Extremes in 1993 and the company began co-development with Epic Games on what would become Epic Games' Unreal franchise.[2]

Unreal was a first-person shooter created in 1998, and was followed up with Unreal Tournament in 1999. Both received many editorial and industry awards including Game of the Year.[3] Subsequent sequels in the Unreal franchise, included Unreal Championship, Unreal Tournament 2003, and Unreal Tournament 2004. To date, 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. Several of the game's iterations are currently available for download on Steam (software).

After years of working in the same universe with Unreal, Digital Extremes broadened its library and technology with development of its original IP, Dark Sector. A third-person shooter, released in 2008 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, Dark Sector used Digital Extremes' proprietary game engine, Evolution.

Following Dark Sector, Digital Extremes continued expansion in response to the growth in the industry and the need to stay competitive through the next-generation console transition. In recent years, Digital Extremes has assisted 2K with the PS3 version of blockbuster hit, BioShock,[4] 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.[5] Digital Extremes developed the game for the Star Trek Into Darkness movie, working with Bandai Namco and Paramount to develop Star Trek.

On October 14, 2014, Sumpo Food Holdings Ltd. acquired majority share of Digital Extremes, with Perfect World Co. acquiring minority.[6][7][8]


Digital Extremes has recently developed Warframe, a Free-to-play title.[9] It is the spiritual successor to Dark Sector, as mentioned by the developers, since Dark Sector was officially disregarded as canon during an early Dev Stream.

Warframe is a free-to-play third-person shooter, placing the players in a position to play solo or co-op against multiple enemy AIs. They must take back the Solar System from the Grineer Empire, the Corpus, and other various enemies. It is currently in update 18 and is available for download via Steam, their official website, via PS4 and now Xbox One.

Digital Extremes is currently working with n-Space to develop a fantasy role-playing game, Sword Coast Legends, which is set within the Dungeon and Dragons franchise. [10]


The Evolution logo

Evolution is Digital Extremes' proprietary game engine.[11] The engine made its debut with Dark Sector; and was again utilized in The Darkness II.[12] 2013's Star Trek featured use of the Evolution engine; and the engine was also used for the 2013 free-to-play online title Warframe.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Digital Extremes employment environment has been recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for 2010, 2011 and 2012.[13] Additionally, the company has been recognized as one of Canada's top employers for Young People.[14] In 2010 and 2011, the Financial Post named Digital Extremes one of the ten best companies to work for in Canada.[15] On the provincial level, Digital Extremes received the Ontario Small Business Award in 2010.[16] Digital Extremes was also presented with the Large Business of the Year award in 2011 from the London Chamber of Commerce.[17] Digital Extremes was also awarded the Excellence in Human Resources award from The London Chamber of Commerce in early 2012.[18] 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 Quality Assurance 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.[19]

Games developed[edit]

Year Title Platform(s)
DC DOS Lin Mac PS PS2 PS3 PS4 Win Xbox X360 XOne
1993 Solar Winds No Yes No No No No No No No No No No
1993 Epic Pinball No Yes No No No No No No No No No No
1993 Silverball No Yes No No No No No No No No No No
1995 Extreme Pinball No Yes No No Yes No Yes No No No No No
1998 Unreal No No No Yes No No No No Yes No No No
1999 Unreal Tournament Yes No Yes Yes No Yes No No Yes No No No
2001 Adventure Pinball: Forgotten Island No No No No No No No No Yes No No No
2002 Unreal Championship No No No No No No No No No Yes No No
2002 Unreal Tournament 2003 No No Yes Yes No No No No Yes No No No
2004 Unreal Tournament 2004 No No Yes Yes No No No No Yes No No No
2005 Pariah No No No No No No No No Yes Yes No No
2006 Warpath No No No No No No No No Yes Yes No No
2008 Dark Sector No No No No No No Yes No Yes No Yes No
2008 BioShock No No No No No No Yes No No No No No
2010 BioShock 2 (multiplayer) No No No Yes No No Yes No Yes No Yes No
2011 Homefront No No No No No No No No Yes No No No
2012 The Darkness II No No No Yes No No Yes No Yes No Yes No
2013 Warframe No No No No No No No Yes Yes No No Yes
2013 Star Trek No No No No No No Yes No Yes No Yes No
2015 Sword Coast Legends No No Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes No No Yes

Games published[edit]

Year Title Platform(s)
Lin OS X PS4 Win XOne
2013 Warframe No No Yes Yes Yes
2015 Sword Coast Legends Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

See also[edit]


  1. ^ RGB Classic Games. "Epic Pinball". RGB Classic Games. 
  2. ^ David Jenkins (2007-08-20). "Digital Extremes Weighs In On Unreal Engine 3 for PS3". Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  3. ^ "GT Interactive and Epic Games Earn Coveted 'Game of the Year' Honors for 'Unreal Tournament'". Business Wire. February 17, 2000. p. 1261. 
  4. ^ Mike Bendel (2008-06-08). "Digital Extremes To Assist In BioShock PS3 Development". Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  5. ^ Jaz McDougall (2010-08-18). "Homefront PC port has dedicated servers". Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  6. ^ Digital Extremes (2014-10-14). "In-Depth: Partnership Announced". 
  7. ^ Makuch, Eddie (15 October 2014). "Unreal, BioShock Dev Digital Extremes Sold to Chinese Companies". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Futter, Mike (16 October 2014). "Digital Extremes: No Changes To Leadership Following Majority Acquisition By Chinese Firms". Game Informer. GameStop. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  9. ^ Kotaku (2012-08-10). "Warframe, The Next Game From The Darkness II’s Developers, Looks Interesting". kotaku. Retrieved 2012-08-28. 
  10. ^ Jared Petty (2015-02-13). "New Dungeons & Dragons Game Sword Coast Legends coming in 2015". IGN. Retrieved 2015-02-13. 
  11. ^ Mark DeLoura (2010-03-09). "In-Depth: The State Of Game Engines At GDC 2010". Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  12. ^ Kranzl, Justin. "Preview: The Darkness II". Retrieved 2011-09-06. 
  13. ^ Canada's Top 100 (2011-10-07). "Canada's Top 100 Employers: National Competition". Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
  14. ^ Canada's Top 100 (2011-09-19). "Canada's Top 100 Employers for Young People". Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
  15. ^ Canada's Top 100 (2011-02-01). "Financial Post's Ten Best Companies To Work For". Retrieved 2012-03-13. 
  16. ^ Jody Lundrigan (2010-09-16). "Twelve Ontario Businesses Named Winners of Business and Export Excellence". Retrieved 2012-02-09.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  17. ^ London Chamber of Commerce. "Business Achievement Awards – Business of the Year Hall of Fame". 
  18. ^ London Free Press. "Celebrating City's Best". 
  19. ^ Ministry of Labour. "Digital Extremes Employment Standards Claim December 2011" (PDF). 

External links[edit]