Region Focus: Canada

Region Focus: Canada

By Develop Staff

April 8th 2013 at 11:30AM

Develop returns to Canada to ask what UK devs can learn ahead of the introduction of UK games tax breaks

The Develop team has only ever once received hate mail. And it probably won’t surprise you to hear that it was as a response to coverage of the issue of tax breaks.

Until last year, when the Coalition UK Government finally relented to years of lobbying to start a British tax credit, Canada was painted as the villainous nation draining away our talent.

With subsidies around production, Canadian studios were ‘stealing’ our staff, our business and our glory. We have seen a spate of UK businesses bite the bullet and set up Canadian offices, and some of the key studio leaders in Canada hailed from Britain.

But now that the UK is getting its own production support, it’s time to use Canada to learn how. There is a lot we can learn from the market over there, so we asked experts in the region for their advice.

OUTWARD LOOKING

Tax breaks aren’t just about inward investment. They are ambassadorial for a country, used as both means to seal a deal with investors or publishers, as well as a political device.

“For projects with tight budget constraint, the availability of tax credit can become the key factor in the go/no go decision,” says Bill Bennett, Minister of Community Sport and Cultural Development on the British Columbia Cabinet.

“For example, the tax credits may allow companies to hire larger teams or extend their production schedules in order to create more intricate and higher quality final products. This allows a local office (e.g. a Vancouver studio) to elevate its stature in what may sometimes be a global network of games studios for one company.”

That’s the obvious benefit, of course. Territorially, tax breaks have helped support regional clusters and pushed them to grow – which should be good news for the more nascent or undernourished areas of the UK’s games development scene. And it works the other way: games industry successes have helped put some regions on the agenda. This is something reps in Nova Scotia know all too well.

“Because our sector is relatively new, one of our challenges is awareness,” says Nova Scotia Business’ Suzanne Diab.

“When people think of games development in Canada; Nova Scotia does not tend to be on their radar. It’s the companies that are located in Nova Scotia and the success stories, that are generating attention and prompt attention.

“A local studio Fourth Monkey Media recently partnered with Walt Disney. to help develop an interactive attraction at Tokyo Disneyland and HB Studios produces games for EA Sports. It’s company successes like these that have contributed to the growth of our overall information technology sector in Nova Scotia.”

In Nova Scotia, games has been the fastest growing sector compared to any other province over the last five years according to Statistics Canada 2011. And that’s before the province implemented a tax break last year.

PUTTING THE BRAKES ON BREAKS

But what happens when tax breaks go away? That’s happened in British Columbia recently, where some tax deals expired – and it’s on the mind of those provinces which only recently had tax breaks implemented.

“Vancouver has generally been the barometer or trendsetter in Canadian development,” explains Longtail’s John Jennings, executive producer at a studio in Halifax whose parent province Nova Scotia implemented subsidies late last year.

“Right now, it’s seeing a decline in permanent employment for developers and a shift to project-based, or even shorter, contracts. Salaries grew high there during the boom of the early 2000s, due to competition for the best staff.

“With the decline of subsidies in British Colombia, studios can no longer support those salaries on a permanent basis. We’re certainly seeing development shift increasingly eastwards within Canada as a result. There are probably double the number of studios in Halifax now, compared to five years ago.

“Chasing the subsidies around the country is something we need to avoid though. We need to aim for long-term stability and avoid a dependency on subsidies caused by offering crazy salaries that are reliant on subsidies being in place.”

Nearby HB Studios, also based in Nova Scotia, says the lesson there is to see tax breaks as an added bonus, not the foundation for a business.

Founder Jeremy Wellard says: “HB had been around for eight years before the Nova Scotian Digital Media Tax Credit was introduced in 2008, and we had a staff of around 130 people by then. The success of the company was established well before the DMTC came into play and we endeavour to not rely on it for any of our operations, because it is not particularly secure.

“The DMTC was up for renewal in December 2012 and it was only at the last minute that the provincial government decided to extend it for one year to allow time to fully review it’s worth. Nobody knows whether it will continue after the end of 2013.”

That might give some pause for thought. But no one said any tax break will last forever. The most important aspect to any economic deal supporting games developers is that it has started a dialogue with the government.

“As an indie studio we would put government support at the top of the list, above tax breaks,” adds Matthew Doucette, co-founder of indie studio Xona, another Nova Scotia studio that has watched tax breaks help other areas of the country long before the region ever got its own one.

“NSBI and its subsidiaries have been amazingly supportive of Xona Games, keeping us in check and sending us around the world to meet our publishers and collaborators face-to-face.”

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

But tax breaks do help countries compensate for other weaknesses, or highlight difficult public policy structures in rival nations.

While UK firms have frowned at Canada, the region’s growth has as much to do with more robust immigration policies than economic deals. That’s something Geomerics knows a lot about. The British middleware firm has set up an office in Vancouver.

“This is not just a question of tax breaks,” says founder Chris Doran. “As a technology company we have done very well through the UK’s system of R&D tax credits, and our decision to open an office in Vancouver had very little to do with taxation.”

Indeed, Geomerics doesn’t make games, so can’t claim back as studios can. So why Canada?

“What has really stood out was how easy they made everything. We recently tried to recruit a new employee from a non-EU country, and the obstacles the UK government put in your way were staggering.

“By contrast, the task of opening a Canadian office, with official company registration and approval, and immigration, was completed in under a month. I think there are clear lessons here for the UK government.”

The move was so easy it tempted Geomerics away from the likes of California, too.

“This was much more a case of Canada and the USA competing for our business, and the Canadians won because they made everything so much easier. Over time we intend to fill the Vancouver office with staff recruited locally, but they are there doing the job locally that we simply could not continue to carry out from the UK.

“On a wider scale, I can see many ways that Vancouver, and Montreal, help drive the global games business. It is a well researched fact that highly technical industries thrive when large clusters are established to act as centres of excellence.”

A WARNING FROM THE FUTURE

But as tax breaks have hit maturation in other regions, and UK studios prepare to claim theirs from April, there are some important lessons Canada has learned along the way. Tax breaks, in theory, will boost demand – but nations need a complimentary investment in talent to supply that.

Jayson Hilchie, head of the Entertainment Software Association Canada says: “We are becoming the victims of our own success. Our industry is growing faster than the domestic supply of labour available to staff all of the positions in certain locations.

“Canada has the largest video game industry in the world per capita, which means that there is going to be a strain on resources. This can be alleviated, to some extent, by increasing the number of students graduating from programs that feed into our industry.”

But, who knows, maybe that’s an opportunity to reclaim some of the ground we lost to Canadian provinces just under a decade ago?

Ontario


TRADE BODY Q&A: Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation

Develop speaks to Darius Basarab at Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, about the body’s aim to continue growing the local games cluster.

How is your organisation involved in the Canadian games industry?
The games industry, as well as the digital media sector, are important parts of the Ontario economy. The Ministry actively works with a wide range of private sector partners, local economic development offices, academic institutions, as well as numerous not-for-profit industry trade organisations committed to the growth and the promotion of the industry. Our efforts are also strengthened by close collaboration with other ministries, government levels and government agencies like the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

What challenges currently face Ontario’s games development sector?
Many experts have commented on the fact that the entire games industry is currently in a state of transition. The influence of mobile, tablet and free-to-play games cannot be ignored, and business models which have served the industry for many years are currently being adjusted. These challenges are evident in Ontario’s games development sector, as they are all around the world. Many companies in Ontario have embraced these challenges as an opportunity to develop alternative distribution channels to traditional developer-publisher models. This is also a great opportunity for Ontario to shine above other competing jurisdictions thanks to the availability of talent in the sector, as well as the flexibility built into our tax credits.

A lot of people talk about migration to Canada. What about the other direction – do Canadian games developers secure industry employment outside of their home nation?
Ontario-raised and trained games developers, as well as other professionals in the digital media space, have been extremely successful outside of their home nation. Many of these individuals have gone on to develop and produce iconic products in Hollywood and in the digital gaming industries. The talent which has graduated from Ontario schools is second to none, and has a track record of recognition by the Academy Awards, as well as the numerous digital gaming and animation societies. Many of the most influential games makers are from Ontario and they left their home nation soon after graduation in their youth. Many of these individuals are now very experienced and looking to return home for any number of personal reasons. With the growth of the gaming industry in Ontario these individuals now have the opportunity to return.

Q&A: Jade Raymond, MD, Ubisoft Toronto

Ubisoft Toronto is helping cement Ontario’s position as a global games hub. How important is the city to the Ubisoft ethos?
When you consider the high level of training, the thriving indie game scene and its diverse local culture, Toronto offers tremendous advantages for a studio like Ubisoft Toronto. Ontario is filled with talented individuals who are among the best educated in the game development industry.

In addition, Toronto has a rich history of film and entertainment production, making this city a cultural centre for Canada, and a breeding ground for new ideas and innovation. The size and diversity of the game development community and ecosystem in Toronto demonstrates there is a lot of room for dynamic growth in this city, and all across the province of Ontario.

Beyond tax breaks, what else makes Canada strong for games development?

Well, the extreme weather in our country means we enjoy a great deal of time indoors brushing up on our gaming skills. But seriously, Canada offers some of the most advanced education and training programs in the game development and publishing industry which results in a deep pool of creative and motivated talent. The Canadian games industry has a healthy ecosystem – it is filled with large and small companies proving that there is a prosperous community looking to keep the industry fresh and drive innovation in this country.

Were there any other key ‘Canada-specific’ industry trends or challenges that currently affect the way Ubisoft Toronto is evolving?
Canada has become an important hub driving the advancement of virtual production, and this creates exciting opportunities for Ubisoft Toronto as we push performance capture technology and techniques forward. In September 2010, we unveiled our performance capture studio which allows for the creation of high-quality content for games by creating deeper characters and more immersive storytelling.

GIVE US A BREAK: Big Blue Bubble CEO Damir Slogar explains why tax breaks matter

Tax breaks are very important, not only to our studio, but to the Canadian gaming industry as a whole. They might sound like something that would give Canada an unfair advantage, but people often forget that Canada is lacking in many other areas that the US or UK games industries take for granted.

For example, access to start-up capital, as well as any kind of VC investment, is almost nonexistent in Canada. Banks are also very conservative, so getting a start-up loan or even getting crowdfunded (Kickstarter still doesn’t work in Canada) is almost impossible.

On top of that, things like ridiculously high bandwidth cost, lack of any major publishers – I am talking about HQ, not actual presence – and you will see that things are not as rosy as they might seem from the outside. Tax breaks and government initiatives are a great way to bridge that gap.

So tax breaks are helping redress the balance. It is still very hard to find a major games industry brand that you can tie to Canada. Everyone can name numerous internationally known games or game characters from the US, UK or Japanese games companies, but you will struggle to find a Canadian counterpart.

However, things are looking better with the uprising of new indie studios that are doing a great job of putting Canada back on the map.

Montreal & Quebec


TRADING PLACES: Profiling two organisations key to Montreal: ALLIANCE NUMéRIQUE & TELEFILM CANADA

How is your organisation involved in the Canadian games industry?
Géraldine Philippin, Communications Director, Alliance Numérique:
We have served as the business network for Quebec’s new media and interactive digital content. Alliance Numérique has close to 200 members issued from the video game, eLearning, internet and mobility industries. It supports their development by offering them a vast array of services and activities. In order to favour the growth, competitiveness and success of businesses, Alliance Numérique multiplies partnerships, meetings and exchanges on both the national and international level.

Alliance Numérique also acts as a privileged speaker to public powers.

Finally, Alliance Numérique is the organisation behind the Montreal International Game Summit (MIGS), an annual conference initially created in 2004, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2013, to meet the needs of the Quebec video games industry, which currently employs over 8,000 workers. It aims to develop expertise and knowledge transfer as well as promote trade and business development among all of the industry stakeholders from Canada and abroad.

Carolle Brabant, Executive Director, Telefilm Canada: Telefilm Canada is dedicated to the cultural, commercial and industrial success of Canada’s audiovisual industry.

Through its various funding and promotion programs, Telefilm supports dynamic companies and creative talent here at home and around the world. Telefilm also administers the programmes of the Canada Media Fund.

To stay in touch with the industry and to let them know what is happening at Telefilm, we leverage our various platforms to stay connected, whether it is our Website – www.telefilm.ca – or our social media channels on Twitter and Facebook.

Beyond tax breaks, why else is the province so strong as a games development destination?
Philippin: One of the main assets Quebec holds is the quality and creativity of its workforce. Quebec is often perceived as a gateway to Europe in North America. It’s unique location can thus provide an ideal environment to create games that can touch the sensibilities of both continents.

Also, Montreal and Quebec City are cultural hubs with diverse and dynamic artistic scenes. Their vibrant energy, the relatively low cost of life and the bilingualism can attract both English and French employees from abroad. Finally, the province of Quebec is well equipped with numerous universities and training centers.

Brabant: It is Telefilm Canada’s mandate to promote the Canadian audiovisual industry; in addition to supporting cinema we also administer the funding programmes of the Canada Media Fund.

TECH TRIO: Montreal’s Autodesk, Babel and Audiokinetic ON dev growth in Canada

How have you seen Canada’s industry grow or change over recent months and years?
Martin H. Klein, Founder and President, Audiokinetic:
Since the beginning of 2000, Montreal became a major player on the international gaming scene. Attracting many major studios from all around the world, Montreal has over 350 development studios with more than 8,000 people working in the field. Montreal developers are recognised for their quality of work and talent.

All signs show that Montreal will continue to grow significantly in the near future. Vancouver is strategically well positioned; near the American West Coast, with a skilled workforce and many incentives.

Maurice Patel, Senior Manager, Media & Entertainment Industry Marketing, Autodesk: We have seen strong and consistent growth in the games sector, especially in Montreal. Before Ubisoft opened its offices there in 1997, the games industry in Quebec was very small, but it grew rapidly into a large industry with thousands of employees.

Other centres include Vancouver and Toronto although in the last few years there has been a shift to the East driven in part by a steep rise in real estate and living costs in the West. The same trends in consumer demand that are impacting the games business globally are also true to Canada, the most significant of which is the rapid growth in demand for casual/mobile games. Recently we have seen overseas companies opening post-production facilities in Montreal.

Richard Leinfeller, Chief Exec, Babel: There has been a huge influx of European and US development talent as those locations become too expensive and inflexible for large scale game development. Many of the Montreal studios started doing low cost QA or art only. Many, however, have now grown to develop whole triple-A titles, moving up the value chain.

What in particular does Canada offer a games tech company like yours?
Patel:
Canada offers a healthy ecosystem for games development, which is the result of multiple interrelated and co-dependent factors. One obvious factor is a strong pool of talented graduates thanks to an excellent education system. Less obvious ones include the skill and experience that comes from a long history of excellence in computer graphics, thanks to Canada’s aerospace industry.

UBIQUITY: Ubisoft has two major Quebecois studios – we spoke to both

How important is your studio’s home city to the kind of place your studio is?
Nicolas Rioux, Managing Director Ubisoft Quebec:
That is a very interesting question because we often hear our employees talk about the ‘human size’ of the studio. Even if it is a mid-size studio, we all know each other.

This particularity of the Quebec City studio allows us to recruit and keep talents that are not only looking to work on leading franchises, but also for a quality of life.

The importance of finding the right balance between professional and personal life for our teams is without a doubt influenced by our location, as Quebec City is renowned for being one of the best locations for overall quality of life in the world. Being a mid-size city, Quebec has reached a good balance between economic dynamism and quality of life.

Francis Baillet, Vice President of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs, Ubisoft Montreal: The location of Ubisoft in Montreal is key. The city is well known for its creative strength and leadership with other companies like Cirque du Soleil or Moment Factory, but it is also known for its strong gaming ecosystem, which Ubisoft highly pionneered with the opening of the studio nearly 16 years ago.

Nova Scotia


TRADE BODY Q&A: Nova Scotia Business Inc

Develop speaks to, Suzanne Diab, NSBI’s Marketing and Communications Advisor, about supporting a cluster away from the big Canada cities

How is your organisation involved in the Canadian Games industry?
Nova Scotia Business Inc. is Nova Scotia’s business development agency. Five years ago we identified the games development sector as a key opportunity for Nova Scotia, and now we are home to a thriving base of local companies in the digital media sector – HB Studios, Fourth Monkey Media, Silverback Productions, and many more. Just recently, we attracted Frontier Developments to our province, the studio behind titles like Kinectimals and LostWinds. They selected Nova Scotia for its first North American location.

Why is the province so strong as a games development destination?
Nova Scotia offers several key advantages including cost-competitive operating costs, an educated and loyal labour pool, a strategic nearshore location to the US and Europe, financial incentives, a world-class infrastructure and a growing ICT sector.

According to KPMG’s 2012 Competitive Alternatives report Halifax ranks number one for cost competitiveness in video games production out of all global mature markets surveyed, and is in the top ten out of all global mature and developing markets.

Halifax was also ranked as number one for operating costs when compared to key sector cities in Canada, the US and Europe in the software development sector. Nova Scotia is Canada’s university capital and is home to ten universities and 13 community college campuses. And according to Statistics Canada, Nova Scotia has on average, over the last five years, 16 per cent more ICT grads per capita than the Canadian average.

Speciality degrees relating directly to industry needs are offered throughout the province. These include Graphics, Gaming and Media, Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems, Communications Technologies and Cyber Security, as well as SAP Software Expertise.

What about key games industry trends apparent in Nova Scotia today?
The industry in the province is growing in diversity and a lot of the games development skills are being applied in other industries across the province. A recent study by Nordicity (2013) says that the majority of interactive media firms in Nova Scotia are generating revenue by developing products and services in education, training, simulation and gaming, with most work being done on proprietary platforms, and various mobile or web-based platforms.

How are those from outside Nova Scotia and Canada supported in moving to the province to work in games?
We have a team of labour strategists on hand that works closely with provincial departments like the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration. That office is also active in recruiting, and they attend international recruitment events focused on the digital gaming sector. In addition to attracting people to the province, Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS) is the region’s leading community organisation.

INDIE PERSPECTIVE: Xona Games’ Matthew Doucette on the issue facing all studios

The challenges FOR Canada are the same everywhere. When you look at the top retail games each year there are plagued with sequels.

In the top 20 retail games starting on the Xbox 360 in 2012, only three were not sequels. I believe the solution lays in the innovation that only indie studios offer. I can foresee a great change in the gaming landscape. The next pressing issue is how to market the enormous onslaught of indie games to find the gems. Everyone is doing it wrong, from Steam, to Xbox Live, and especially the App Store.

However, Steam is on the verge of some great solutions. Canada is famous for its tax breaks but while subsidies are very much appreciated, since making games has been a passion for Jason and I for 30 years, they are ultimately icing on the cake. As an indie studio there are many financial concerns, the biggest is just simply surviving at all. The tax breaks will come into greater meaning for us as we continue to succeed.

As an indie studio we would put government support at the top of the list, above tax breaks. NSBI and its subsidiaries have been amazingly supportive.

AN EX-PAT SPEAKS: HB Studios founder JEREMY WELLARD on switching homes

“I miss London, my hometown, but the quality of life here is really rather special.”

You hear that a lot from UK ex-pats who have hopped oceans to set up games businesses in Canada.

HB Studios CEO and founder Jeremy Wellard made the switch a decade ago – before tax breaks came to Nova Scotia, and before the Canadian games development boom became headline material. But not much has changed in that time, except the higher profile.

“Generally games developers are a young crowd and Canada, in all its diversity, offers a fantastic lifestyle for that age group,” says Wellard.

For the studio founder, the challenge isn’t around games subsidies, it’s hiring staff: “The biggest challenge in Nova Scotia is currently recruitment. Every development studio in the country seems to be recruiting. Available Canadian developers are very difficult to find and the current, right-leaning federal government has been increasing the restrictions around bringing in foreign workers. We have had to turn down projects because we cannot find software engineers quickly enough.”

Q&A: Longtail Studios

Are tax breaks important to your studio?
They certainly allow us to remain competitive with other developers, but they’re not the be all and end all that our publisher looks for when choosing to work with a studio.

Are there any other key industry trends particularly apparent in Canada today?
Of course, we’re seeing the same boom in iOS and Android micro-studios appearing throughout the country, even here in Halifax and throughout the Maritimes.

What makes Canada appealing to those from other countries pondering a move for work?
There isn’t really ‘one culture’. Due to its sheer size, there’s great diversity in the country, geographically and culturally, so it can appeal to almost anybody. East, West and Central Canada all feel very different. Immigration is also relatively easy, in comparison to entering the US or Europe. In addition, the Canadian Economy hasn’t suffered in the same way as the economies of Europe and the USA, making it easier for families.

British Columbia


TRADE BODY Q&A: British Columbia Government

Develop speaks to Bill Bennett, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development on the British Columbia cabinet about games

How is your organisation involved in the Canadian games industry?
The Province of British Columbia offers a range of services, resources and expertise aimed at enhancing BC’s position as a highly competitive international centre for investment and innovation.

Why do you think the province is so strong as a development destination?
Talent is one of the key reasons that companies choose to locate in BC. They see the strength of the labour force, the creative atmosphere. The collaboration between academia and industry, and also between companies within the industries are important consideration factors.

The British Columbia Provincial Government, City of Vancouver, other municipal governments and Federal Government all work to support game companies who are investigating in BC.

With the convergence in film, media, games development and visual effects, Vancouver has become an attractive jurisdiction to locate operations. Companies are able to feed off the momentum of all these creative industries in one tight knit location.

One recent investor we worked with indicated that the historical significance of Vancouver is another reason they have elected to locate here. They are impressed with the history of companies, such as Electronic Arts, which started here, and Club Penguin which located in Kelowna.

The existence of institutions such as the Centre for Digital Media is another draw for companies. They are interested in the interaction between industry and academia. The new operations at CDM are extremely impressive and they have teams housed there which are dedicated to specific companies and specific projects.

What challenges currently face British Columbia’s games development sector?
The global interactive gaming industry is undergoing a massive transition driven by digitisation of all entertainment content. Big console studios, are under pressure to move away from producing console games  towards the development of less expensive mobile games for phones or social media.

Historically, British Columbia’s strength was in large console games development. As the shift from console to mobile occurs, traditional console companies like EA and Rockstar have streamlined their operations, whereas small- and medium-sized mobile and social media companies have grown.

British Columbia is home to a thriving and growing entrepreneurial community of small games studios looking to capitalise on new trends in smart mobile devices, social media, and digital distribution and increasing broadband penetration. Over the past year, several video games developers have established a presence in British Columbia, including DeNA Gameview, Gree, Gamehouse and Microsoft, among others.

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY: Why Geomerics expanded to Canada

With its lighting technology becoming increasingly popular around the world, it was inevitable that global expansion beckoned for Geomerics. After surveying the North American West Coast, it settled on Canada because it makes it as “easy as possible” for businesses to set up, explains founder Chris Doran.

“Once we had settled on Canada, the main choice was between the two main centres of game development: Vancouver or Montreal. We have customers in both centres, and either would have made sense. In the end we went for Vancouver for two reasons. The West Coast location made it easier to offer worldwide support, and the first wave of staff we were sending out all preferred Vancouver.”

Geomerics’ Vancouver office will be staffed with engineers working directly on the global illumination tool, but the actual principle of expansion was a matter of global scope and government support – not tax breaks specifically, as it isn’t making a game.

Doran adds: “The relevant authorities were all incredibly helpful. We first approached the Canadian representative at UKTI, who put us in touch with the relevant people in Vancouver. They then walked us through the main steps in establishing a branch office and completing paperwork for immigration. Finally they put us in touch with accountants to set up payroll and book-keeping, and they also helped us find an office and accommodation for staff. There were some professional fees involved, as you would expect, but they were very light and the whole operation was surprising cost-effective.”

FAMILY AFFAIR: Silicon Sisters caters to an underserved female audience

Silicon Sisters Interactive was formed to create high quality games targeted at the female audience.

Bailey Gershkovitch co-founded the studio with with Kirsten Forbes, and the pair spent the first six months of their endeavor researching everything they could find that might inform the quest to truly understand women’s relationship with technology, gaming and entertainment.

They created a document that they refer to as ‘the women’s gaming bible’ based on these findings, and that is what drives all game design at Silicon Sisters.

“The female gaming market is the fastest growing and most underserved market in the industry,” says Gershkovitch.

The studio’s first project was a series for ‘tween girls called School26, and the studio’s current project is a playable romance designed from the first line of code up with adult women in mind.

“It’s the studio’s first stab at creating a light romp through what women have been devouring for decades – romance novels,” she adds.

Silicon Sisters is just one of a clutch of Canadian indies benefitting from the global games transition, with smaller firms springing up as the larger studios shrink.

“The indie scene in BC is growing by leaps and bounds,” says Gershkovitch. “It seems every time I attend a meeting I meet someone new who has started a studio.

“There are a number of issues impacting the dev scene in Canada, including somewhat of a funding gap on the private sector side. Canada has a history of supporting primary industries – investment dollars tend to flow to mining and similar sectors.

“However, the digital space continues to offer tremendous growth and reward. We just need a few big hits to help investors take more risk.”

This feature was published in Develop #136, March 2013