'Montreal is not an efficient place to run a business'

'Montreal is not an efficient place to run a business'
Michael French

By Michael French

March 17th 2008 at 8:00AM

Fireband chief Greenshields joins call for UK tax break and offers an account of his time running DC Studios in Canada

Mark Greenshields, CEO of independent developer Firebrand games, has joined the call for a UK tax break for the games industry - but said that the tax credits offered in Quebec have made Montreal an inefficient place to operate a studio in.

Speaking in an exclusive editorial for Develop, available to read here, Greenshields - who previously founded the now-closed Montreal outfit DC Studios - says the city is "not an efficient place to run a business".

Firebrand has a studio in Glasgow and a newer US office in Florida, USA, which was opened following Greenshields' closure of DC Studios.

He says that the Montreal tax environment has skewed the region's industry towards large-scale projects only with large number of unskilled developers.

"Montreal has too few skilled people for the available development positions. Unless you have big pockets you'll need to spend a lot of money developing your games using bigger teams than necessary, a situation partly created by the tax credit system and partly by the speed of growth in Montreal."

Greensheilds goes so far to say that "what was once a cheap location to develop is now no different than anywhere else in North America" and says that publishers know this, making it hard for independent developers to negotiate budgets on new projects.

"I'm not simply 'Montreal bashing'," he adds. "I spent seven years there and worked with some truly great developers. But look at the whole picture before you listen to your accountant."

Instead, he adds that the UK Government should look to introduce its own tax credits to support the entire country's game development sector.

"Historically Britain has lost too much innovation due to lack of support.

"The UK is an expensive place to do business and, with the current determination by the UK Government to put every stupid law from Europe in the way of employers, some help would be appreciated. It would also go a long way to redress the balance with countries such as Canada and enable us to fight back against outsourcing."

To read the full piece, click here.