UK dev force â??has finally fallen behind Canadaâ??

UK dev force â??has finally fallen behind Canadaâ??

By Rob Crossley in Cologne

August 17th 2010 at 11:38AM

GDC Europe: Ontario Technology Corridor sends its head-hunting execs to Cologne

In what will signal the end of a two-year long warning from British game companies, Canada is now claiming its inevitable position as the world’s third-biggest development country.

Digital media association Ontario Technology Corridor says it was “a combination of a deep talent pool, strong economy and targeted incentives” which helped Canada stride past a British sector so often embroiled in rows over tax breaks.

With the help of EA, Ubisoft and a growing army of indies, Canada is now said to have a bigger development workforce than Britain.

The Ontario Technology Corridor’s claim echoed a recent study from the Electronic Software Association of Canada, which reported that the nation now has over 14,000 game developers.

Canada, of course, is famous for its tax incentive plans – but it would be a mistake to mark this down as its sole fundamental strength.

While the UK still climbs out of a merciless economic hole (in fact, still with fears it may fall back in), Canada’s economic thermometer shows a nation in relatively fit health.

Meanwhile, as the British Lib-Con coalition makes dramatic cuts across the entire arts sector (the UK Film Council being the most recent victim), Canada’s regional politicians proactively pursue publishers to invest.

In a ten-year plan, New mega-studio Ubisoft Toronto will receive around CA$250 million investment from the Ontario state government.

Canada has no wish to stop now. Its next target is Japan, which sits in second behind the US. This week the Ontario Technology Corridor has scattered its executives out to Cologne to attend GDC Europe – here the association will network and am to arouse interest in moving to Canada.

The move is reminiscent of a Nova Scotia game body’s recent attendance at the Develop Conference, where the association tried to lure developers to relocate to the thriving region.

Recently, a number of British game developers were outraged at being handed what they described as “mock-up Canadian Passports” – handed out at a UK-focused game event to advertise the benefits of developing games in Canada.

Meanwhile, the Ontario government recently opened a dedicated ‘digital media’ institute at The University of Waterloo. The wing cost $20 million, and first classes begin this year.

”Ontario’s fast-growing entertainment and creative cluster produces $15 billion in revenue and over 200,000 jobs, contributing $12.7 billion to the province's GDP,” said Ontario Technology Corridor.

Gerry Pisarzowski, an Ontario Technology Corridor partner exec, said his task now is to “add to our tremendous home-grown crop of companies and help demonstrate that Ontario is a prime destination in North America for gaming investments.”