Rockstar Toronto

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Rockstar Games Toronto ULC
Rockstar Toronto
Formerly called
  • Imagexcel (1988–1995)
  • Alternative Reality Technologies Canada (1995–1999)
  • Rockstar Canada Inc. (1999–2002)
  • Rockstar Toronto Inc. (2002–2012)
  • Rockstar Games Toronto Inc. (2012)
Industry Video game industry
Founded 1988; 29 years ago (1988)
Headquarters Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Key people
Kevin Hoare (studio manager)
  • Alternative Reality Technologies (1995–1999)
  • Rockstar Games (1999–present)

Rockstar Games Toronto ULC (formerly Rockstar Canada Inc.), doing business as Rockstar Toronto, is a Canadian video game developer based in Oakville, Ontario. The company was established in 1988 as Imagexcel, and became part of Alternative Reality Technologies (ART), a subsidiary of GameTek, in March 1995. The studio was acquired by Take-Two Interactive as part of ART being sold off, which lead to be split independent from ART, and becoming part of Take-Two Interactive's Rockstar Games umbrella in 1999. In August 2002, the company was renamed Rockstar Toronto to avoid confusion with the newly-acquired Rockstar Vancouver.

Rockstar Toronto is primarily a porting house for games developed by subsidiaries of Rockstar Games, but also developed the 2005 game The Warriors, based on the 1979 film of the same name, and co-developed Max Payne 3, as part of Rockstar Studios, in 2011.


As Imagexcel and part of Alternative Reality Technologies (1988–1999)[edit]

Imagexcel was founded around 1988, as a sister company to Gray Matter. Its first product was Techno Cop (1988), and their last Quarantine (1994).[1][2]

On 9 March 1995, the company was announced to have been acquired by Alternative Reality Technologies (ART), a subsidiary of GameTek, becoming its Canadian office.[3] The acquisition was completed by 7 April 1995.[4] As part of ART, and Quarantine II: Road Warrior, which was released in 1996,[5] and Dark Colony, which was released in 1997.[6] On 29 July 1997, Take-Two Interactive acquired several assets from GameTek, including ART and its Canadian division, GameTek's European offices, and distribution rights to their Dark Colony, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune games.[7][8]

As part of Rockstar Games (1999–2002)[edit]

In early 1999, ART Canada was merged out of ART and became Rockstar Canada, and a part of Take-Two Interactive's Rockstar Games label. Although their first duties covered creating two Grand Theft Auto expansion packs, London 1969 and Lonson 1961,[9] their primary tasks became ports of games published by Take-Two Interactive or Rockstar Games to PlayStation 2, that being Oni (2001)[10] and Max Payne (2001).[11]

On 1 August 2002, Take-Two Interactive announced the acquisition of Barking Dog Studios, which would be renamed Rockstar Vancouver.[12] As part of the acquisition, Rockstar Canada would be renamed Rockstar Toronto to avoid confusion between the two.[13] Alongside the acquisition, Take-Two Interactive announced that the now-renamed Rockstar Toronto was working on a video game adaption of the Walter Hill-directed 1979 film The Warriors.[14][15] The eponymous game was first shown at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in May 2005,[16] and released in October that year.[17][18] The game was well received,[19][20] and a PlayStation Portable conversion of it was developed by Rockstar Toronto in conjunction with Rockstar Leeds.[21] A spiritual successor to The Warriors, tentatively titled We Are the Mods, was originally planned, but cancelled.[22][23]

Following the release of The Warriors, Rockstar Toronto returned to being mostly a porting house, though instead of PlayStation 2, the focus shifted to Wii, porting Manhunt 2 (2007)[24][25][26][27] and Bully: Scholarship Edition (2008),[28][29] and later to Microsoft Windows, porting Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)[30] and Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City (2010, comprising the two 2009-released Grand Theft Auto IV expoansions packs, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony). In September 2008, Rockstar Toronto was rumored to be working on a third installment in the Max Payne series.[31][32][33] Rockstar Toronto most recently collaborated with all other Rockstar Games subsidiaries, collectively referred to as Rockstar Studios, on Max Payne 3 (2012), and assisted Rockstar North on Grand Theft Auto V (2013), as well as handling its Microsoft Windows port.[34][35][36][37] For the Microsoft Windows versions of Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar Toronto each develoepd a own built-in video editor for footage caputred in-game.[38][39] Journalists remarked Grand Theft Auto V's Microsoft Windows port as its "ultimate version".[40] In November 2010 and 2013, respectively, Rockstar Toronto teasted to be working on next-generation games.[41][42]

On 9 July 2012, two months after the release of Max Payne 3, Rockstar Games announced that Rockstar Toronto would be moving into a new, bigger, and custom-build[43] studio within their Oakville, Ontario location, with which the Rockstar Vancouver studio would be merged,[44][45] effectively closing it.[46][47] All of Rockstar Vancouver's 35 employees were given the posibility to move to the newly-expanded Rockstar Toronto, or any other Rockstar Games studio.[48][49] Jennifer Kolbe, vice president of publishing and operations at Rockstar Games, stated that the move intended to make a single Canadian team that "will make for a powerful creative force on future projects",[50][51] and aimed at making room for 50 new positions at the company.[52][53] On 22 November 2012, the company was legally renamed from Rockstar Toronto Inc., over Rockstar Games Toronto Inc.,[54] to Rockstar Games Toronto ULC, as such becoming a unlimited liability corporation under the laws of British Columbia.[55]

Games developed[edit]

Year Name Platform(s) Publisher(s) Notes
1999 Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 Microsoft Windows, MS-DOS, PlayStation Rockstar Games Expansion pack for Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto: London 1961 Microsoft Windows
2001 Oni PlayStation 2 Ported only; game develoed by Bungie West
Max Payne PlayStation 2 Ported only; game developed by Remedy Entertainment
2005 The Warriors PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox N/A
2007 Manhunt 2 Wii Ported only; game developed by Rockstar London
2008 Bully: Scholarship Edition Wii Ported only; game developed by Rockstar Vancouver, Scholarship Edition developed by Mad Doc Software
Grand Theft Auto IV Microsoft Windows Ported only; game developed by Rockstar North
2010 Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City Microsoft Windows
2012 Max Payne 3 macOS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Developed as part of Rockstar Studios
2013 Grand Theft Auto V Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One Support developer for Rockstar North; also ported to Microsoft Windows


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