Montreal Rivals Vancouver As Canada’s Biggest Game Development Centre

Montreal Tech Watch discusses how Montreal has become a mature centre of game development, with the studies to prove it. Statistics count 4,953 people employed in the Montreal video game industry, and another 1,200 in other parts of Quebec. Like BC, Quebec offers generous tax incentives for gaming and that has lead to rapid growth. A few interesting points from the Alliance Numérique study:

  • Early in the 90s, Quebec’s interactive game industry experienced a spectacular growth. While it numbered at only 500 jobs in development in 2000, it now counts more than 4000.
  • Quebec has been recognized as a true production center of international scale since 2001, with the resounding success of Splinter Cell. Other successful Quebec titles include: Assassin’s Creed, Rainbow Six, Prince of Persia, NHL 07 and Boogie.
  • 2008’s Top 50 worldwide studios ranking, according to the American magazine Game Developer, counts five Canadian studios including Vancouver’s EA Canada (4th), BioWare (10th), and EA BlackBox (29th). Ubisoft Montreal (12th), and Beenox in Quebec City (33rd), are the only Quebec studios in this ranking.
  • Quebec is among the most “generous” regions around the globe in regards to production support, with its tax credit of up to 37.5% of the labour costs (without a limit). As this latter represents, on average, 75% to 80% of the development costs, this credit can represent equivalent amounts of 25% to 30% of total costs.

This growth puts Montreal on level with Canada’s other hub of game development: Vancouver. Somewhere around 5,000 people are employed in Vancouver’s game industry; I haven’t seen updated numbers since recent layoffs. Both cities have their one huge studio, EA Burnaby (1,300) and Ubisoft Montreal (1,600). A weak economy and a strong dollar is sure to impact the Canadian games industry, but these two cities are matured to weather the storm.