The Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) released a report last week revealing that video game studios based in Canada contribute $2.3 billion to the country’s economy.
Quebec leads the way in video game development for Canada. More than of the 16,000 people who work in the country’s video gaming industry are employed in Quebec, working at places like Warner Bros Games Montreal, Gameloft, Ubisoft Entertainment, and 94 other video game companies in the province.
“That whole multicultural aspect that we find in Montreal really sort of drives our creativity,” says Martin Carrier, studio head at Warner Bros Games, to CTV News. “We have great schools that are here that really have the ability to bring out top talent.”
Some of the best games released last year like Assassin’s Creed III, Far Cry 3, and Mass Effect 3 have grossed almost $216 million worldwide, all coming out of Quebec. Although, according to Nerd Reactor’s game reviewer, Glen Ilnicki, Montreal was not always the main hub for the video game industry.
“British Columbia used to be Canada’s main video game hub, but aggressive tax incentives have drawn companies to Ontario and Quebec in recent years. Montreal, of course, is a major area of video game activity,” Ilnicki says.
Over the last ten years the demand and popularity for video games has increased.
“If you look at the way video games are talked about now in the media, it’s a lot closer to how they would talk about music, movies, or even TV shows,” says Julien Lavoie, public relations rep for the ESAC. “In terms of their economic impact, some of the big blockbuster games make more in their first week than movies ever could.”
In 2008 Grand Theft Auto IV grossed 310 million dollars after the first day of release. Whereas the most successful film that year, Spiderman 3, made just 117 million dollars on opening night.
Part of the reason why video games are popular is because of the interactive experience it offers gamers.
“It just allows a way deeper story to be told. Also, you can tell the story through the player’s eyes allowing them to create their own stories,” says Ethan Hermer, science student of the University of Ottawa and an avid video game player. “It’s the combination of greater depth and freedom to create your own story in the construct. A movie is someone telling you a story, a video game is allowing you to tell your own story.”