Rémi Racine, president of Behavior Interactif and majority shareholder (Photo: courtesy)
+58% variation 2019 to 2022 in the number of employees in Quebec
136Y in the ranking of large companies
SPECIAL LARGE COMPANIES. Next September, the independent video game developer Behavior Interactif will celebrate its 30th anniversary. The strong growth of the company in the Montreal district of Mile-Ex, however, comes late: it is about to cross the threshold of 1,000 employees this year, up from 550 in 2019. “We are going to hire more than 100 new people in Montreal in 2022, mainly programmers and artists”, says its vice president of talent and culture, Kalina Morin.
It must be said that the designer with nearly 200 titles, born from the merger of Megatoon and MMI, has barely filled his coffers. A round of financing – of a confidential sum – was actually led by the American fund Haveli Investments and the Chinese video game developer NetEase. “These different areas of specialization will help us with our distribution in Asia and with the acquisition of businesses in North America and Europe,” explains the president of Behavior Interactif, Rémi Racine, who remains its majority shareholder.
A lesson in resilience
The financial indicators of the company are also growing: turnover has gone from 39 million dollars (M$) in 2016 to 225 M$ in 2021 and should be around 300 M$ by the end of the year.
A success that is anything but linear. “The first five years were difficult, then, with the rise of console games, we experienced sustained expansion until 2008”, recalls Rémi Racine. Then comes the decline, from 2009 to 2014. The kids’ game market, then accounting for the vast majority of Behavior Interactive’s revenue, dries up in favor of free mobile games. This is followed by a reduction of almost half of the workforce. “I turned down buyout offers, big and small, because I never thought it wouldn’t work,” he says, though.
Perseverance rewarded: the company pivots towards the market of players over 13 years of age and launches “Dead by Daylight” in 2016, the game that will change everything. The latter now has more than 50 million users, including two million daily players, and generates two-thirds of Behavior Interactive’s revenue.
This is an important step in the publishing world of the company that, until then, mainly developed games on an outsourced basis. An activity that still represents a third of its turnover.
benevolence and freedom
One of the great strategic assets of the developer in an industry where talent is as popular as it is valuable is its corporate culture, regularly awarded by the international institute Great Place to Work. “Beyond all the advantages it offers, the benevolence and the very human side mean that we have a lower turnover rate than the market,” says Kalina Morin. Rémi Racine, for example, has a habit of having lunch twice a week with a dozen different members of her team to answer all her questions.
However, the pandemic presented a major challenge for the 58-year-old president, who until then had been adamantly opposed to telecommuting. “To my surprise, it works very well,” he says. Since then, the company has adapted to a hybrid operation: office reorganization, review of the integration process for new employees, changes in social benefits… Today, 40% of employees have chosen to work from home on time full, 5% are in the office every day and the remaining 55% a few times a week. All this provides great freedom of schedules.
Not to mention the recent opening of an office in Toronto, where some fifty employees already lived. “This will allow us to recruit more”, explains Rémi Racine. On the same day as this announcement, Behavior Interactif received many resumes.