Poor Vancouver tax breaks 'disheartening' for devs

Poor Vancouver tax breaks 'disheartening' for devs
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

January 22nd 2013 at 12:00PM

British Columbia struggling to compete as developers flock to neighbouring provinces

Vancouver needs tax break incentives similar to its neighbours in Quebec and Ontario if it’s to halt the developer exodus and compete on a level playing field, the founder of Slant Six has said.

Speaking to The Vancouver Sun, Brian Thalken said he was sad to see developers leaving the province and uprooting their families to find development roles in regions with more jobs on offer.

He added that it was also disheartening to be outbid on a number of projects by studios based in Montreal and Ontario who could potentially hire more people for projectst and develop them for less money.

A number of developers such as Rockstar and Radical Entertainment have been closed down in the last few years, or had their operations significantly downsized as studios move to regions with better tax incentives.

Slant Six Studios, which has developed titles such as Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, has also been forced to reduce its staff size from 150 developers to 75.

“I don’t want to wade too deep into politics here but it is disheartening,” he said.

“When we go to talk to a big publisher, we are competing against independent studios in Montreal and Ontario. When we quote a game, they are able to lower their effective man-month rate and land more projects than we get here.

“We get outbid and the work goes to the eastern provinces, therefore the jobs go to the eastern provinces. We are losing our people, we are losing our tax base - these are highly educated, talented people and jobs that are going away.”

Thalken went on to say that his studio was currently trying to rally the game industry in British Columbia to lobby the federal and provincial government to implement stronger tax incentives for developers to keep the region’s sector alive.

“We’re not looking for handouts, we’re just looking for a level playing field,” said Slant Six game director Tuomas Pirinen.

To help keep the local industry alive, Thalken also said that many developers were shifting to mobile platforms and away from console as they look to become more profitable and develop titles with less risk attached.

The studio, which has traditionally developed console games, recently released mobile title The Bowling Dead, which has been downloaded more than 110,000 times.

Develop will be publishing an in-depth look on the state of the industry in Canada in our special region focus in the March issue of Develop Magazine, which will also be available at the Game Developers Conference.

If you are interested in taking part, please e-mail Develop editor Will Freeman at Will.Freeman@intentmedia.co.uk.