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Canada Expansion Marks Milestone in Implicit Conversions’ Quest for Classic Games Resurgence Through Emulation

The expansion leverages Canada’s talent pool and funding opportunities

La Honda, California — Implicit Conversions Inc., a tech startup known for premium emulation of classic and retro games for the PS4 and PS5, announced it has opened new headquarters in Canada, a strategic expansion that signifies a major milestone in the company’s mission to revive cherished gaming memories. This expansion positions the company at the heart of Canada’s burgeoning tech ecosystem, with its Canadian headquarters situated in the city of Montreal.

Robin Lavallée, CEO of Implicit Conversions Inc., and originally from Québec, expressed his enthusiasm for the expansion, stating, “Canada has many great opportunities for video games. There’s tons of talent, and it’s my way to pay tribute to where I grew up.”

Canada has many great opportunities for video games. There’s tons of talent, and it’s my way to pay tribute to where I grew up.

Robin Lavalee, CEO, Implicit Conversions

Under the leadership of Bill Litshauer, who assumes the role of President for Implicit Conversions Inc. / Les Conversion Implicites in Canada, the company is committed to preserving gaming history and empowering people to play the games they once loved but that might be out of reach due to obsolete consoles. 

Litshauer emphasized the company’s dedication to game preservation, saying, “We want gamers to be able to relive the nostalgia from when they played their favorite games as kids.  At the same time, we want to make these classics accessible to today’s audience on modern consoles.”

We want gamers to be able to relive the nostalgia from when they played their favorite games as kids.  At the same time, we want to make these classics accessible to today’s audience on modern consoles.

Bill Litshauer, Sr. Executive Producer and President Implicit Conversions, Canada

Implicit Conversions has emulated a range of classic/retro games – over 50 titles.  With their Syrup Emulation Engine, a variety of games are on the horizon from legacy consoles like the NES, SNES, Neo Geo, Sega Genesis, and more.

To learn more about the company’s quest to revive classic games through emulation, visit their website at implicitconversions.ca.

About Implicit Conversions Inc.

Implicit Conversions/Les Conversion Implicites specializes in the high-level emulation of classic and retro games, enabling gamers to experience their favorite classics on modern consoles. With a dedication to preserving gaming history, Implicit Conversions combines cutting-edge technology and a passion for gaming to bring cherished classics back to life. To date, the company has shipped over 50 games.

For media inquiries, please contact:

President, Implicit Conversions Canada:  Bill Litshauer


2100-1080 côte du Beaver Hall 
Montréal, Québec 
H2Z 1S8 

Chatting about retro games on The Gaming Persona podcast


Recently, Implicit Conversions CEO Robin Lavallée sat down with Dr. Daniel Kaufmann on The Gaming Persona podcast to chat about classic games and…

🕹 The challenges of re-creating classic games, like…

  • Do you keep it “true” or update with modern features?
  • Do you keep the control system?
  • How do you deal with licensing, old brands and logos?
  • Do you preserve legacy bugs?
  • How do you localize content for broader reach?

🕹 The importance of preserving games; the history; the nostalgia, and introducing classic games to today’s audience who have never played them.

🕹 The reason why Japanese versions of the same game are easier to speedrun?

🕹 The importance of form-factor (console VS PC ports)

🕹 How do you choose which games to emulate?

🎮 Obligatory Baldur’s Gate 3 discussion, plus the beauty of Sea of Stars

⏯ To subscribe to the podcast, visit https://lnkd.in/gZeXrQga

Implicit Conversions:  The Origin Story

Interview with Jake Stine & Robin Lavallée, CTO & CEO @ Implicit Conversions

Robin Lavallée and Jake Stine, co-founders of Implicit Conversions, open up about their backgrounds and the reasons behind the creation of their emulation company which brings retro games to modern consoles.

A Curious Mind Unlocks the Code

A Nintendo leak in 2018 revealed source code for Starfox 2, released in 1995.

Jake always had an inquisitive mind. 

“I wonder how they did that?” he asked himself as he grinded Nintendo games as a child. 

Very early, he had developed the habit of taking things apart to see how they worked. “But with a video game, the hardware can only take you so far in terms of understanding how they work,” he explains. “If I wanted to have the whole story, I had to study the code. And that’s how I started developing software.” 

Jake discovered that he could develop the skills to fix the annoying bugs he sometimes encountered in games. He admits that he is not usually the one who comes up with ideas but he is very good at finding solutions to problems that are brought to him. In his youth, he had friends who’d come to him with an objective and they’d work together to find solutions to arising issues. They helped each other out with various video game projects, combining their sets of skills to achieve their common goal. 

A Friendship Formed Through Shared Passion

Robin was one of those friends. They met online; Jake lived in the U.S. and Robin in Canada – where he learned English through video games, notably Final Fantasy, which has quite a lot of text. Together, they endeavored to create an emulator so they could play Final Fantasy IV on their PC. “I was thirteen or fourteen, and I spent countless hours copying each tile manually, from my low-res TV in the basement to the computer. I even reconstructed the world map, click by click, so I could have it opened while I played,” Robin remembers.  Around that time, he decided that he wanted to make games.

For his part, Jake started to have occasional storytelling ideas that he liked to share with his friends. He’d take an editorial approach to existing games: edit dialogues, change the pace, the flow of the story, fix its timing,… Pretty soon, the two friends and other teens were working on their own video game projects. They were inexperienced but motivated by all the fun they had working together. “We focused on small, well-defined goals that we knew we could achieve,” Jake noted. “I’d naturally break out the projects into doable bits, as I had always done.”

Although most of their projects didn’t go beyond design and practice runs, they entered one of their demos in a gamedev contest and won third place, which would, incidentally, later get Robin hired at Ubisoft. 

From Self-Taught Developer to Emulation Expert

PCSX2 PlayStation 2 Emulator
PCSX2 is a free emulator of the Sony PlayStation 2 console for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X operating systems, released under the GNU GPL license.

As time went by, the two friends lost sight of each other, both finding their own paths to hone their technical skills.

Jake, who had never felt at ease in an academic environment, rejected the option of going to college, anticipating it to be a waste of time and money for him. He worked on his own, being his own employer, focusing on 2D engines and technical demos, learning by himself  how to develop user interfaces and websites. But without the degrees and connections in the field, he had a hard time making a living for himself. 

Although Jake was already an accomplished self-taught developer, he hadn’t much experience with emulation. He joined the emulation scene after attempting to fix bugs he encountered on an unstable and not particularly user-friendly PS2 emulator called PCXS2. He started to implement upgrades, such as the option to resize the window, and when he encountered bugs in the audio, he started to tackle them, emboldened by his earlier successes with these issues when he had worked on small video games projects.

He soon discovered that audio in emulation is an integral part of the emulator system unlike in modern game development where it’s separate. “Back in the day, the entire game was set on the audio, like a clock,” he explains. He learned how to fix that first audio issue which led him to branch out and work on other bugs and implement stable changes to the emulator. 

The original developers noticed and contacted him to work on improving their program. Jake joined the team because he enjoyed this type of work and the new skills he was developing. He didn’t expect to make any money out of it, but by 2007 PCSX2 had been downloaded a few million times and was bringing a small revenue through the sale of ad space. The team decided to invest into upgrading their hardware. Jake’s situation was improving as he finally had managed to monetize the skills he had worked so hard to teach himself. 

Just as he wondered how to reconcile the concern of intellectual property with the work he was doing, Sony contacted him.

They couldn’t tell him what he would be working on, but they wanted him to work for them. Jake was reluctant at first: he had no formal qualifications and had never worked in a corporate setting. “I bluntly asked them why they would want to work with someone who couldn’t give them any proof that he’d do a good job. And they told me that it wasn’t my concern but theirs. So I went along with the recruitment process and was hired as an engineer to participate in developing their PS2 emulator on PS4, first with the R&D team and later in Production.” Jake soon realized that, despite his lack of experience in corporate positions, his self-taught knowledge and the way he handled problems were a great asset for the project as well as the people he worked with. 

From Self-Taught Coder to Corporate Leader

Robin worked on the Assassin’s Creed Unity development team in 2013, as lead programmer.

Meanwhile, Robin followed a much more common path. He had always wanted to work in the video game industry and had already learned to code by himself. He received his bachelor in computer science at the Concordia University in Montréal in 2003 and soon after joined Ubisoft in Québec as a software engineer and gameplay programmer. He had solid programming skills and climbed the ladder over the years, all the way to the position of lead programmer. 

After almost a decade working on well-known modern franchises, such as Prince of Persia or Assassin’s Creed, he took on the position of Technical Director at Frima where he was the Technical Lead of the studio, making games for consoles and mobile for 3rd parties such as Disney, Nickelodeon, or the government, among others. Being the leader of a considerable team, he also participated in the business side of the projects and gained skills in marketing and sales. 

He then answered California’s call and emigrated in 2015 to join 2K’s team as a senior online engineer. He later moved on to Twitch where he mainly worked on video decoding and porting (from Web to Xbox, PS4, PS5 and Switch) for 5 years. He then became a software development engineer at Meta where he worked with very advanced technology for about a year,  developing Project Horizon and the Metaverse. 

Nevertheless, Robin’s first passion was and remains retro games. “When I was young, I used to draw Mega Man using my computer’s pixels,” he confides. “I’ve always been really fond of RPGs, such as Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. I used to pretend the monsters were the teachers I didn’t get along with.”

As an adult, he realized that he had been one console generation behind everyone else all his life: he had bought his PS1 when the PS2 came out, his PS2 when the PS3 was released, etc… “I am thrifty,” he says. “I didn’t see the point in paying full price for a game that’d be discounted in a few years. So I’ve always been behind current game trends.” He’s also maintained a fondness for fixing old hardware such as consoles. 

Bringing Retro Games to Modern Consoles: Jake’s and Robin’s Ambitions

The six years Jake spent working full-time at Sony starting in 2011 were incredibly instructive but he says the most important lesson he learned there was about brand alignment. “Sony is focused on the brand value of their products, and rightly so. But that leaves out a lot of third-party games that don’t necessarily align with Sony’s objectives. My hope is to make emulators that are available to everyone.  There is a lot of value to be found in many awesome classic games such as Legacy of Kain: Soulreaver, for instance.”

Meanwhile, as Sony restructured their emulation project, Jake went from employee to contractor. 

Jake created his own company, Implicit Conversions, in January of 2019. He didn’t want to carry out this enterprise alone, so he offered Robin, with whom he had recently reconnected, to join in. Unfortunately, for various reasons, the project didn’t gain much traction then. 

A couple of years later, Sony decided to once again turn to Jake to help them manage their “old” games. That’s when he asked Robin to join him full-time in developing Implicit Conversions’ activities. 

Together, they worked out if the project could be viable and how to make it worth it. Robin’s experience in business and budgeting came in handy and Jake’s connection to Sony helped them identify the needs and necessary workforce to answer the giant’s demands. “This company almost happened by accident,” Robin reveals. “We weren’t 100% sure of where we were going, but we were going there together.” 

Although they work closely with Sony, which covers its target market very well, there is still a sizable piece of the market where Sony isn’t necessarily interested. Whereas the video game publishers see Implicit Conversions’ work as a series of games to be added to their stores, Jake and Robin have a bigger vision for their company. 

Their plan is to work around console makers’ intellectual property on a technology long-established corporations view as outdated, in order to propagate the software they are developing. “I’d love to be able to play games such as Cybernator, Ninja Warriors Again, Peacekeepers, or Guardian Heroes on my modern console!” Jake points out. 

With their own company, independent from console makers, the two developers have enough freedom to share the technology to a greater number of people and are now happy to see their prospects and team grow to new heights. 

Implicit Conversions: Bringing yesterday’s classic games to today’s consoles

Friends brought together in their teens by their love for Final Fantasy, Robin Lavallée and Jake Stine have created Implicit Conversions to develop emulators capable of running classic games on modern consoles. 

Their collaboration is filling a little-explored space in the gaming industry and participating in the preservation and availability of classic games whose original consoles are becoming hard to find. As their company grows, the two developers reveal what makes it a unique start-up in the world of emulation.

Robin Lavallee and Jake Stine

Uniting Global Talents: A Complementary Collaboration

With seemingly incompatible backgrounds, Robin Lavallée and Jake Stine are proving that their skill sets and experiences are actually complementary. They created Implicit Conversions in January of 2019. 

The name came to Jake after some thinking: he had to find a name unique enough to avoid worrying about trademarks all throughout the US. He thought about how he spent so much time talking about implicit and explicit conversions in C++ and how it would be fitting to reference the conversion of old games to new formats which they’d carry as implicitly as possible.  And so the name, “Implicit Conversions” was born.

Preserving Gaming Heritage: Accessibility and Distribution

The two developers set themselves the goal to develop console emulators for consoles in a way that would enable well-known game producers as well as smaller editors and retro indie creators to distribute their games on modern consoles.

“A lot of people in emulation do it because they genuinely enjoy classic games and most of the work they do in this field isn’t a source of income for them,” Jake points out. “When I realized I could make a livelihood out of my own passion, I was amazed.” Robin expands: “There isn’t a lot of overlap between open-source developers and corporations in emulation; we try to bring these two worlds closer together. Jake has more experience in emulation, I have more experience in programming for consoles; we are very complementary. ”

Maintaining the Console Experience: A Form Factor Advantage

Most emulation is carried out on PC, but Implicit Conversions has the advantage of maintaining the original format the games were designed for since they emulate classic console games on newer consoles. “Form factor is overlooked by many indie game developers,” Jake clarifies, “because they have many controllers attached to their PCS: a successful PC game should be used with mouse control, phone game with touch control, etc… Users might not want to attach a controller to their phones, it’d reduce the use they can get out of their devices. But consoles are different; they are always like that, linked to their controller.” 

To Jake and Robin, it is key to maintain the console experience for players. Implicit Conversions’ main goal is to put the games in front of people, they are focused on accessibility: “Some old video games can be hard to republish,” Robin comments. “There are different versions depending on the region, different contracts with publishers… So people turn to pirating because they don’t really have other options. I dream of creating something that would enable the easy distribution of retro games and allow publishers and creators to keep monetising them, like Youtube does for video. It would both respect intellectual property and ensure that everyone profits from the hard work put into games.” 

Overcoming Technical Challenges: Emulation and Problem Solving

Jake admits it’s a technical challenge since emulators don’t run very well on consoles… since that’s not what consoles were designed to do. But Implicit Conversions is technology driven, it’s an engineering firm that is free from the constraints of game development since they work with games that are already produced. “We can improve a game to some extent,” Jake comments, “but it sets the precedent for what the final product should be. We are emulation developers, we have to focus on how a game works rather than how to make a good game. We can thus bypass some of the hardest parts of software development such as establishing a roadmap. The roadmap is made by the games we have to deliver on a particular console. We are free to concentrate on the tech and problem solving.”

Preservation and Recognition: The Lore of Video Games

One of the company’s long-term goals is to make porting easier across consoles to give game developers the opportunity to distribute on any console. To the founders, the question of preservation is also a major focus. Robin insists on the difficulty raised by the relative newness of video games in human culture: “We don’t yet have a lore around video games such as can be seen in literature, with commented books for example, but it will come. It’s heartbreaking to see how many games have been lost already, even for consoles as recent as the PS3. Also, it’s hard to anticipate which old games will be popular with today’s audience. All there is to base an opinion on is how successful they were when they came out, but there is no certainty they’d meet the same recognition today. Look at how Among Us surprised everyone! Plus, there are games that are easier to emulate than others…”

Expanding Horizons: Pioneer in the Western World

Implicit Conversions is now growing. “I think we’re currently the only Western company with the ambition of providing global console emulations,” Robin declares. “There might be companies doing exactly the same thing in Japan, but communication and exchanges are hindered by the language barrier.” 

Today, the company employs 18 people full or part-time. For Robin and Jake, the company’s strength lies in the people it brought together.

Their recruitment process revolves around finding competent and driven people. To them, the most pivotal issue is to convince talented people to join them, which they have managed so far through their transparent, innovative, and human approach.  “We are lucky to have a lot of senior developers onboard,” Robin asserts. “It’s a risky bet, to leave a solid company to join our little start-up; but there’s something magical about creating something that will make hundreds of thousands of games work without actually producing an original game.” 

Embracing a Remote Work Culture: Uniting Global Talent

Working remotely from Dubrovnik, Croatia. Just another day at “the office”.

Robin and Jake don’t like too much process in the way they manage their team, they’d rather focus on feedback. “Processes aiming at preventing errors often tend to limit people’s creativity and freedom,” Robin points out. “I’d rather let people make mistakes and then spend time correcting them. People need the opportunity to make mistakes.” Jake also insists on his preference for creative problem solving, especially in this niche section of the industry. He admits he was surprised by the interest a lot of young developers show toward retro gaming.

Implicit Conversions has been a full-remote company since its inception. The company doesn’t have a physical office. “I’ve had really great experiences working remotely with other engineers,” Jake explains. “When I founded my own company, it made sense to me to keep working that way. It can represent a challenge for junior engineers, but I’ve learned that if there happens to be a block, it’s more likely to come from someone’s personality and shyness rather than the lack of face-to-face interaction.” 

Robin also enjoys the efficiency of this way of working, especially since he can avoid lengthy commutes. But he misses not seeing his colleagues and acknowledges that remote working is not for everyone. “The perfect situation for me would be a hybrid way of working: so I can have time to do things on my own as well as a shared space with others,” he confides.

Both founders are very careful in their recruitment process and insist that full-remote requires a good setup and specific conditions to be successful. “Most people who work in emulation already know how to self-motivate because they know what they want to do,” Jake says. “They don’t need an office and most don’t want one. And at Implicit Conversions, there’s no risk to ever bring people back to the office, ‘cause there just isn’t any physical building.”

Robin believes that providing such a level of freedom can be daunting at first, but experience has proved that it works. “Programming is an intellectual activity,” he explains, “our brains are working anywhere, anytime; ideas don’t only come when we are in front of our desk during office hours.” Working remotely facilitated bringing together people from all over the world; people who wouldn’t have been able to cooperate otherwise.  The team currently consists of people from the United States, Canada, France, Portugal, Ireland, and Belgium.

Shaping the Future of Retro Gaming

As CEO, Robin always places people on the top of his to-do list. Providing people with a safe and satisfying work environment is his priority. “I know I can’t please everyone and there can be conflicts, but resolution is never far when one is open to listening and understanding,” he affirms. “I think that 80% of technical problems come from miscommunication. The capacity to synthesize clearly is primordial to avoid issues down the line. I’d rather have on the team someone who communicates well than someone more technically proficient.” As CTO, Jake values creative technical solutions and collaboration. “Most of the reason why I’m where I am today is because I was trying to help people do what they wanted to do,” he says. “This helps me see the perspective of the people I work with now and our common motivation is nothing other than seeing this company succeed.”

Jake and Robin’s vision and commitment to the project have already shown great success. Their enthusiasm and complementary skill sets have brought together a talented and passionate team. As Implicit Conversions continues its development, we can expect a lot more “retro and oldies” to be available on our modern consoles in the future! 

A Memory I’ll Never Forget on my NES

In 1988, my love for video games and hockey were united with the release of Ice Hockey on the NES. I played, I practiced, and I was really good at it. Like unhealthy good…

At the time, I subscribed to Nintendo Power Magazine, which featured new releases, cheat codes, and stories about many Nintendo games. One section was dedicated to high scores and showed user submitted photos of their achievements.

Back then, you actually had to take a picture of your TV, get it developed, and physically mail it in. Old school.

Nintendo Power Magazine was elite.

In one issue, there was a high score for Ice Hockey. The high score was 51-1. That may seem high, but I knew I could beat it, and I set it out on my quest.

My strategy was simple: select Canada as my team, win the faceoff at center ice, drop it back to the defense, then quickly pass it up to the “skinny” player who would use his speed to get to the opposing goalie quickly and deke him out.

The strategy worked. I quickly ran up the score. By mid-way of the second period, I had already broken the record in Nintendo Power. I pushed on.

In the third period and still with 10 minutes remaining, I was winning 99-0. I got my parent’s 35mm automatic camera ready. I knew was going to break into the hundreds and more than double the record! With nervous anticipation, I scored the 100th goal of the game.

And then it happened.

To my shock and horror, the score read 0-0.

Not an actual screenshot from the game. But look, Canada is about to score!

Apparently, there were only two digits to display the score for a team, so it rolled over from 99 back to 00.

My crowning achievement was lost, and at 9 years old, I had my first rage quit.

To this day, I wish I had snapped a picture of the screen sooner in the process.

Now, without proof, all I can do is hope that people believe me when I tell them my high score.


Author: This true horror story was written by Bill Litshauer, Sr. Executive Producer at Implicit Conversions.

My Video Game Platform Journey

I spent some time recently reminiscing and mapping out my gaming platform journey… It all started with a Coleco Telstar Colortron, where I played “tennis”, “handball”, and “hockey” with my dad.

Eventually, my parents got me a NES, and that’s when the adventure really started!

In rough order, here’s my platform journey:

  • Coleco Telstar Colortron
  • Coleco Pac-Man Mini Arcade
  • Lots of those little LCD handhelds
  • Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
  • Nintendo Gameboy
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES_
  • PC (beginning with shareware and Wolfenstein 3-D… and still buying a new one roughly every 5 years, or at least upgrading)
  • Nintendo Wii (lots of Rock Band!)
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation 4
  • Mobile gaming (mostly casual… but now Diablo Immortal)
  • Oculus Quest 2 (pre-Meta!)
  • PlayStation 5

💕 Honorable Mentions: I didn’t own these consoles, but I have fond memories playing with friends on them:

  • PlayStation
  • PlayStation 2
  • XBox (modded!)
  • Nintendo Switch Lite (my kids have these, not me…)

Written by Bill Litshauer, Sr. Executive Producer at Implicit Conversions

We’re Going to GDC 2023!

Game Developer Conference 2023

We hope to see you at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

We’ll have a crew of three staying the whole week – more details coming soon! In the mean time, if you’d like to meet, reach us on LinkedIn.