Canada: We’re Number Three

April 5, 2010 -

Canada, according to data from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESCA), is now the world’s third-largest home to game developers, surpassing the United Kingdom and trailing only Japan and the United States.

While the UK tries to compensate by finally passing tax-breaks for those in the game development sector, GamePolitics caught up with Peter White (pictured), President of the London (Ontario) Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), which, in turn, is a member of the Ontario Technology Corridor (OTC).

The five-year old OTC promotes Ontario as a region that is especially receptive to technology and videogame developers, complete with tax incentives, affordable cost-of-living and a treasure trove of universities turning out skilled graduates that are ready to go to work.

White began by describing some of his typical day-to-day duties, “In my capacity, we focus specifically on London and the immediate region, which represents an area of about 500,000 people for an economic base. In the focus of the OTC, really what we are trying to do is focus on the capabilities we have as a region and promote that in a number of different elements, whether that’s opportunities at trade shows, with foreign delegations or with foreign governments.”

The OTC was formed—and is driven by—both a combination of local municipalities and the Ontario government, along with input from other stake holders, such as local universities and colleges. The OTC represents the regions of Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo, London and Niagara.

White explained:

Really, it was an opportunity for us together to promote the capabilities and strengths that we have along our corridor region. Canadians like to think that people know where Ontario is… but when you go to Europe and Asia, people know Ottawa and Toronto, but generally they don’t know the rest of the detail of the geography. Even in certain parts of the U.S. (this is the case).  So, we thought it was a great opportunity for us to promote the entire region.

The OTC has benefited from a government that is willing to formulate and implement strategies as it goes along. White noted that “it’s really been in the last 24 months that the government brought in some more aggressive tax incentives.”

Were these improved incentives a result of a lot of lobbying? White answered, “Both the Ontario and the federal governments have focused on digital media as being a core area, so it hasn’t really required a staff to go out and do broad lobbying. We’re able, actually, to go out and tell the government ‘Look you’re thinking of doing this, this is why this works even better’ and it just helps back up their strategies around that.”

Such unanimity, White said, makes it easier to woo prospective companies, “They can look and see that all three levels of government are involved in this process.”

White has a number of tiered interests to juggle: As a Canadian, he wants more developers to come to Canada. As a resident of Ontario, he wants developers to settle in that province. As President of the LEDC, he naturally wants developers to choose the London-area as home. These layers sometimes require the London-based White, at least initially, to work with competing locales, or other areas represented in the OTC:

It’s a team effort; we’re out promoting the region first and getting people interested in looking at Ontario, and once they decide that they are interested in Ontario, then it’s up to each of us as individual locations to promote the specific advantages we have for each of our cities.

White continued, “Anytime we can get a win in Ontario, it’s going to be beneficial for all of us. For instance, when the province worked with Ubisoft to have Ubisoft make their investment in Toronto that really helped the profile of us (Ontario) as a great site to be located. The province has done some great things in conjunction with the federal government to bring us down to the point where we are the lowest cost tax jurisdiction of all the G7 countries. On top of that, through both the provincial and federal governments we have outstanding programs around research and development.”

When dealing with developers considering Canada, White indicated that it’s a “fairly even split” in terms of whether the parent company (or decision maker) is based in North America or internationally. “A lot of the European countries have been particularly looking at the tax jurisdictions and talent that we have here. Those are the two key elements that they want to consider.”

One area in which Canada holds an advantage over the U.S. is in its less-stringent immigration laws. As White explained, “If European or Asian companies were thinking about a U.S. presence, a Canadian presence works as effectively for them and they don’t run into the issues on trying to get foreign staff in. It’s a much more straight-forward process to do that in Ontario particularly.”

Site selection inevitably boils down to what a company is specifically looking for. According to White, if a company is looking to set up shop in an area with more of a “world-city” feel, then they would probably lean towards Toronto. If a company has a focus on facility costs and being a larger player in a smaller market place, then “London works very well.” White added, “If London is not the right fit, we still want to make sure that they go to Toronto or Ottawa.”

Game developers in the region also tend to take an interest in the local education scene, which is important considering how fast technology can change. White stated, “All of our universities have panels set up where we bring in the industry support side to work in conjunction with the universities and colleges so that they are graduating students with a relevance to what the companies are looking for.”

“If it’s a situation where you’ve had a disruptive technology change,” added White, “You may not be able to address it in a 12-month period, but at least the people are aware of it and making sure the students are up-to-speed and as up-to-the-minute on the technology as they can be.”

The recent UK game developer tax incentives feature wording that would force games to be “culturally relevant” in order to qualify. When asked if Canadian incentives feature any such similar mandates, White replied, “We really don’t worry about what they are producing or the content.”

Correction: 10th paragraph, changed Ottawan to "resident of Ontario."


Comments

Re: Canada: We’re Number Three

It's wierd, because the UK version of the ECA claims that the UK is actually third, it's probably one of those perspective things ;)

That said, good on Canada, if there's any country in the world I'd like to work in other than the UK, it's Canada, if for no other reason than the fact I love Autumn, and Canada has the best Autumns in the world imo :D

Re: Canada: We’re Number Three

Being an Albertan ( Edmonton ) this makes me very happy. Its pretty sweet having Bioware here in Edmonton.

I think Canada is a great place for developers to set up because we really dont care about games in a negative way. The current govt has bigger problems and wont really care.

BRING MORE COMPANIES. Id like to be able to work for a developer and not have to leave my beloved hometown.

Re: Canada: We’re Number Three

Ah makes me smile and have pride for my country :D

Then again, I also live by Bioware's first studio in Edmonton. Bonus? :)

Re: Canada: We’re Number Three

"As an Ottawan, he wants developers to settle in that province."  I believe you mean, "As an Ontarian..."

Thad: We are IIRC.

===============

Chris Kimberley

===============

Chris Kimberley

Re: Canada: We’re Number Three

thanks Chris, I thought that might catch me somewhere.

Re: Canada: We’re Number Three

With glowing hearts we see thee rise, the true north strong and free.

Wonder who's hiring up there.  I've got a passport.

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Did Microsoft pay too much ($2.5 billion) for Minecraft developer Mojang?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
ConsterAh yes, nothing quite says "I take offense to being associated with an awful few" like siding with said awful few.09/18/2014 - 9:07am
Michael ChandraSo be smart, and if you want to be part of the good guys, separate yourself from the bad guys. Don't attack those upset you won't.09/18/2014 - 6:30am
Michael ChandraMeanwhile, Gamergate is tainted and wise people already use a different tag to defend decent arguments. Keeping it up is like going #KKK while arguing about PoC.09/18/2014 - 6:30am
Michael ChandraSo while claiming to be unfairly attacked for the actions of a selected few, you unfairly attack an entire crowd for the actions of a selected few? #notagamer #butahater09/18/2014 - 6:30am
james_fudgeQuiknkold: Let me ask you- how many of those 'gamers are dead' articles did you see here? Because apparently i'm part of some vast conspiracy.09/18/2014 - 5:18am
NeenekoAh, that old straw man. That is one of the ironies about the discussion, the whole point is showing how good people can still have problems with sexism and not realize it.09/17/2014 - 9:11pm
Andrew EisenYes, there have been a handful of op-eds suggesting that the term “gamer” has become tainted (two that I know of) but that’s the opinion of only a few. I've seen an equal number from those who disagree.09/17/2014 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenExcept, you haven't provided a single example of a site that’s actually calling gamers a "collective of Sexist White Bigoted Basement Dwelling Manchildren."09/17/2014 - 8:55pm
TechnogeekIf you want to make the stereotype of gamers less painful, try calling people out when they do bad shit rather than handwave it away as "not all gamers". Even if it is a few bad apples, that'll still more than enough to spoil the barrel.09/17/2014 - 8:53pm
quiknkoldI'm not going to Sell Gamergate anymore. It can sell itself. But I will sell the integrity of the Gamer. That we are still good people, who create and donate to charitys, Who engage with those around us and just want to have a good time.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldpeople should not be harrassed and punished for the actions of a few. I've always welcomed and accepted everybody who wanted to join in. Who wanted to make them, or play them. I love good strong female protagonists, and want more.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldOne of the tennants of Gamergate is to stand up against Harrassment. That Gamers arent like those assholes. We can argue for days if the Sexism or Antifeminism or corruption is there or not, But the one thing I believe in and wear on my sleave is that09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldBut there were these websites, attacking me and people like me, for the actions of a few. and then others joined in on Twitter and other places. there was a hashtag that said "explain in 4 words a gamer" and it made me sick.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldManchildren who are awful people and that the Identity of the Gamer should die. This hurt me personally. I've always identified as a Gamer. Even in my childhood years, I was a Gamer. All my friends are Gamers. Its one of the core parts of my identity.09/17/2014 - 7:34pm
quiknkoldUltimately, With the whole Gamergate thing, I jumped on it due to the harassment. A small number of assholes harrass Anita and Zoe, and then all the publications lumped together Gamers as this collective of Sexist White Bigoted Basement Dwelling09/17/2014 - 7:34pm
quiknkoldEZacharyKnight : Lemme ask you a question. We have people who cling to walls, people who fire lasers from their eyes, people who can shapeshift....and yet fabric needs to be upheld to RL physics?09/17/2014 - 6:54pm
james_fudgebody paint?09/17/2014 - 5:33pm
E. Zachary Knightquiknkold, I stand corrected on the buttcrack thing. Still, I know of no fabric that actually does that.09/17/2014 - 5:05pm
Andrew EisenSo... it's unethical to discuss the ethics surrounding public interest vs. personal privacy?09/17/2014 - 4:45pm
prh99The source for the game was just released not long ago, it's at https://github.com/keendreams/keen09/17/2014 - 4:43pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician