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Canada becomes third biggest industry employer

Wed 07 Apr 2010 10:38am GMT / 6:38am EDT / 3:38am PDT
Business

UK falls to fourth place as Canada eyes further expansion

Canada is now the world's third largest employer of videogame professionals, pushing the UK into fourth place according to new data from the Electronic Software Association of Canada (ESAC).

As reported by the Canadian Financial Post more than 14,000 people are now directly employed by more than 247 Canadian videogame companies. The ESAC claims this is more than the UK and behind only Japan and the USA.

Other statistics show that 138,000 people were employed in general programming and development roles in Canada in 2008, suggesting that videogame developers account for around 10 per cent of all software jobs in the country.

The ESAC attributes Canada's success to generous tax incentives, which have helped to attract large scale investment from companies such as Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Eidos.

Up to 29 per cent more videogame employees are expected in Canada by 2011, with Ubisoft already suggesting that its headcount will nearly double in the country to 3,000 employees by 2013.

EA however famously cancelled plans for a new studio in Vancouver, as part of the company's more general cost-cutting measures.

Frontier Developments founder David Braben recently suggested that the UK could soon become only the sixth largest market for developers in the world, as it risks also falling behind France and China.

Although all three UK political parties have promised tax breaks in a new parliament, Braben also emphasised the need for improvements in computer science courses throughout the UK education system.

16 Comments

Ellison Lećo
Game Developer

1 0 0.0
Yes, i wanna go to Canada!

Posted:4 years ago

#1

James Battersby
Studying MSc Games Software Development

10 0 0.0
Me too - skiing and climbing galore! How likely is it for someone in the UK I wonder?

Posted:4 years ago

#2

Nick Ferguson
Senior Producer

49 11 0.2
Canada? Been there, done that.

I'd love to see a breakdown of Canada's videogame development community by nationality.

Posted:4 years ago

#3

damir
CEO

3 1 0.3
Canada was #3 since late 2008. I don't understand why is this considered news.

Posted:4 years ago

#4
Yeah, what Nick said. Someone else said on here recently that studios go to Montreal because of the local talent. Actually, studios go to Montreal, mainly, because of the tax breaks and the talent shipped into Quebec from elsewhere - elsewhere being the places it's been sucked out of.

It's amazing what a bit (a lot) of taxpayer support can do.

Take note, Osborne/Darling.

Posted:4 years ago

#5
If you have experience then a Canadian company CAN get you a visa. There are rules that prefer Canadians but there are not enough so visas are available. But I guess 30% of all talent there is not Canadian so the tax breaks grow the industry. If Osborne / Darling actually read this and check the facts they could GROW both the taxpayer base AND the tax take by actually introducing tax breaks that are similar to Montreal or Ontario.

Posted:4 years ago

#6

Christopher Pickford
Producer

53 59 1.1
Who's number 1 & 2 then?

Posted:4 years ago

#7

Phil Elliott
Project Leader, Collective; Head of Community (Live Team)

163 29 0.2
The US and Japan.

Posted:4 years ago

#8
Hey Mark, do you think the foreign developer figures would be as low as 30%? I assumed it'd be closer to 50%, certainly in Montreal.

Phil, do you guys have any data on the split in the Canadian development scene by nationality? Be interesting to see.

Posted:4 years ago

#9

Phil Elliott
Project Leader, Collective; Head of Community (Live Team)

163 29 0.2
Nothing specific I'm afraid. We'll try and do some digging, see if we can get hold of that data - I can't believe it's not being tracked, but it may not be collected in one place.

Posted:4 years ago

#10
I ask because I remember getting a message (on here, actually) ages ago from a French CEO talking about their tax breaks system and the battle they'd had to get EU approval for it - and also telling me the effect the Quebec tax breaks had on the French development scene. So yeah, it'd be interesting to see. NESTA may have some info from their Time to Play report, which I have somewhere, but I can't find it at the mo.

Incidentially, EU approval is the one thing that I think people are MASSIVELY under estimating in terms of how long it'll take if we introduce tax breaks, but that's another story:)

Posted:4 years ago

#11
Craig, I'm not sure what you mean when you say that the UK is a mere pebble when compared to Canada? Do you mean generally or in terms of the games industry?

Generally, the UK has roughly twice the population and twice the GDP of Canada, so it's hardly a pebble. Sure, Canada is bigger, but right now its population and economy is still much smaller, and a significant part of Canada's landscape is an area that most people really wouldn't want to live (up north).

If you mean in terms of the games industry, you have to remember that the UK was, at one point, substantially ahead of Canada in terms of the number of studios and workforce.

"There's a big big difference between falling behind due to other countries industries expanding, and falling behind due to the UK's industry shrinking. "

Actually, no, they're perfectly linked, it's just a case of cause and effect.

As Canadian studios have started to benefit from state support (close to 40% in Quebec), then publishers have started to push projects towards those territories, leaving less for other territories (including the UK) to fight for. As those studios have expanded, they've pulled staff from other territories, which has impacted on the technical abilities elsewhere - which, in turn, makes those other territories even less attractive to publishers.

Pivotal had one game that didn't do particularly well, and Eidos shut it down - at the very same time that they (Eidos) were pumping money into Eidos Montreal. Who's not to say that if the same tax breaks had been available here, that Eidos would have been pumping more money into Pivotal, or setting up a new UK studio, instead of shutting them down? The UK IS an expensive place to do business, and it's definitely not a level playing field right now between, for example, UK and Canadian studios.

Sure, publishers buy up studios and then shut them down - but that happens in other industries too (a good example being the recent Bebo announcement by AOL).

I think you're underestimating the effect that tax breaks have had on the territories not subject to them.

Posted:4 years ago

#12

Barrie Tingle
Live Producer

353 117 0.3
@ James Battersby

You are studying in Sheffield, you too have skiing (Sheffield Ski Village) and climbing (The Foundry)
:)

Posted:4 years ago

#13

Stuart Pharoah
Director and CoFounder

7 1 0.1
With regard to numbers of local talent versus shipped in developers: I worked in Montreal for a few years a little while back, and when I started out the studio was pretty small but made up of probably 40+% external talent - but once the core of the studio was set up that number drastically changed to less than 10-15%. The experience of Americans, Brits and other Europeans was used to get the studio up and functioning, but once working the studio grew quite quickly but with mostly home grown talent - makes sense really

Posted:4 years ago

#14
Hey Stuart, long time:)

Surprised the numbers are that low, but there we go. Hope you're enjoying life down in Brighton!

Posted:4 years ago

#15

Stuart Pharoah
Director and CoFounder

7 1 0.1
yeah good thanks.

Posted:4 years ago

#16

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