Video game

Video game studio is helping Lunenburg, NS make its mark in the world of golf

From Moe Norman to Mike Weir and Sandra Post to Brooke Henderson, Canada has a rich golfing history.

But there’s also a little-known hotbed of golf in Lunenburg, NS.

Located on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, with a population of 2,396 according to the 2021 census, the port city is home to HB Studios, creator of the new “PGA Tour 2K23” video game.

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Founded in 2000 by Englishman Jeremy Wellard, HB Studios has worked with various publishers, including Electronic Arts, on a range of sports games. The studio recruited locally and around the world to gain expertise in everything from cricket and rugby to soccer, football and golf.

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“When I started here, I was definitely one of the local people,” said HB Studios creative director Josh Muise, who has more than 15 years of experience with the company. “I was born on the East Coast and raised here. I remember walking through the studio the first day and the number of different accents I encountered was certainly delightful and rather interesting to find in a sleepy little fishing village in Nova Scotia.

Canadian golfer Brooke Henderson appears in a screenshot from the PGA Tour 2K23 video game. From Moe Norman to Mike Weir and Sandra Post to Henderson, Canada has a rich golfing history. But there’s also a little-known hotbed of golf in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia. It is the home of HB Studios, creator of the PGA Tour 2K23 video game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-2K Games **MANDATORY CREDIT**.

The studio now also has an office in Halifax, with a combined staff of around 100 and growing.

“It became a really major project and it became a really big game,” Muise said of the golf title. “We are very fortunate to be able to continue to attract world-class talent and grow the franchise.”

Muise, 40, was born on Cape Breton Island and spent much of his school years in New Brunswick. Although he admits he had some reservations at the time about moving to “a seasonal fishing village of 1,200 to 1,500 people, as beautiful as the postcards,” he is now a die-hard Lunenburg fan.

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“Was it a wonderful transformation? The city has changed dramatically over the last five, 10 years in particular, where you see a lot of new businesses and you see a lot of new people coming in. And it really became a home.

The remote work trend has helped attract an influx of young tech workers looking to move out of town. The fact that Halifax is only about an hour away adds to Lunenburg’s appeal.

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HB Studios reflects this growth, as shown by the fact that its latest title features Tiger Woods on its cover.

“What we’re most proud of is that we feel like we’ve earned the opportunity,” said Muise, whose name is pronounced muse. “We went from being an independent golf game not all those years ago, to building ourselves up to earn the place of having the PGA Tour license in play and being part of our partnership, ultimately bringing 2K (Games ) and all that they offer, then leading to the arrival of Tiger Woods also.

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“The team worked very, very hard to put on an excellent match.

We worked with the community. We have been receptive to feedback. And we kind of grew up together. So for all of this to culminate with the best, I would say, single-sport athlete of all time on the cover of the box, nothing could be better.

That first indie golf game was “The Golf Club”, released in 2014, which eventually became “The Golf Club 2019 with PGA Tour”.

In 2020, the studio released “PGA Tour 2K21” for 2K Games. A year later, 2K Games bought HB Studios and signed a deal with Woods.

Today, the PGA Tour 2K franchise is the studio’s primary focus with 2K Games’ expertise of its NBA franchise helping the studio with the complexities of golf licensing and partners.

Woods and Canadian Brooke Henderson are among 16 playable pros available at launch in “PGA Tour 2K23,” which released October 14 on PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One, and PC via Steam. Basketball icons Michael Jordan and Steph Curry also appear in the game.

“As a Canadian studio, it was important for us to try and bring in a big Canadian icon like Brooke,” Muise said.

“She is an excellent ambassador for the sport. He’s an all-time Canadian legend. he added. “And (we’re) absolutely thrilled to have him on our roster.”

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The 2K franchise will have a competition next spring, with Electronic Arts returning to the game with “EA Sports PGA Tour”, providing access to video games at all four majors, including the Masters.

“We know a new product could be coming to space, but at the end of the day, we’re very confident and very comfortable that golf is where we want to be,” Muise said. “And golf is where we intend to stay. And we will continue to build on our current success and push it forward.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 26, 2021

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