Canada has emerged above behemoths such as China, Korea and the United Kingdom to become one of the top three countries for the gaming industry in the world. The country falls just behind Japan and the USA for its gaming prowess, with 470 studios generating over 20,400 jobs and $3 billion for Canada’s annual GDP. At the yearly Electronics Entertainment Expo, over ten of the major titles on display were either solely or co-produced by Canadian gaming companies. Major league hitters such as Borderlands 3, Marvel’s Avengers, and Gears of War 5 all had Canadian developers behind them. So how has a country with a population smaller than that of California managed to pull ahead as one of the industry’s leading influencers?
In reality, Canada has led the pack for quite some time within the gaming sphere. In 2013 Canadian territories were already seeing tremendous growth in the sector, with over 19 million Cantucks (that’s 54 percent of the population) declaring themselves gamers. Within this demographic, the age is varied, with 90 percent of kids and teens claiming to be gamers and yet, despite common beliefs, the average age of gamers resting around 31.
That number has now grown to over 23 million who play some sort of video game regularly. Both genders are actively involved in game play, with women choosing to play more education and puzzle games than their male counterparts. Men, on the other hand, seem to prefer role-playing games, devoting more time to console devices and being heavier users of gaming accessories such as advanced gaming headphones, high design controllers and virtual Reality headsets.
The high demand for games in Canada is complemented by support the gaming industry received from the government. Quebec, one of the gaming capitals of the country, is often deemed the “Hollywood” of Canada due to the provinces’ backing of the industry on multiple ends. Quebec is home to some of the country’s most talented and capable designers and software engineers. The government also provides serious tax credits, with between 26 to 37% of salaries paid to technical staff working on video games and other interactive multimedia projects.
This generous credit allows gaming giants (such as Ubisoft, who’s North American Headquarters lies in Quebec) and local gaming companies alike to garner higher level staff members who can design better products. The country itself also offers the Canadian Media Fund, a not-for-profit corporation orchestrated by the federal government that delivers $353 million in funding annually to support the Canadian television and digital media industries. The Trade Commissioner Service put together a meticulous 117-page book for the Canadian game Developers Conference to give international businesses an overview of the industry, and a database of the dozens of local Canadian developers. Information included company objectives, size, types of services offered and genres. In fact, many of the top independent gaming industry have a personal connection with the head of the TCS, who invests time and energy into one of Canada’s largest sectors.
As technologies increase and more and more people both in Canada and worldwide continue to play video games, the demand will continue to thrive. Between generous tax ad credit programs, supportive government staff, and a wide pool of design and development talent, Canada’s impact on the gaming industry is here to stay.