The state of the Canadian gaming industry

In the wake of the Canadian Video Game Awards, as covered by Warren Frey last week, many are probably wondering: just where does the Canadian video game scene stand?

Recently, Canada has been receiving recognition for its video game development. CTV News labelled Canada the “new hotspot” for video game creators. How can it be argued? Canada hosts some of the world’s most successful gaming companies.

To name but a few:

BioWare, an Edmonton-based company created by former physicians, is famous for producing thoroughly high quality games. Their 2003 collaboration with Star Wars mastermind George Lucas, called “Knights of the Old Republic,” won over 100 awards and has been crowned XBox’s third best game of all time. Canada must hope BioWare’s founders don’t return to the field of medicine.

Digital Extremes, maker of the wildly popular “Unreal” video games, is based in London – London, Ontario, that is. 

Then there is the industry giant, Electronic Arts. They’re tremendously successful. It goes without saying, of course. And while no, they weren’t founded in Canada, EA opened its doors to the country nearly twenty years ago. They set up a Canadian headquarters in B.C. in 1991 and never looked back. They now have two Canadian studios, one of which is in the Vancouver area. (They recently consolidated two Vancouver-area studios into one.)

And Ubisoft, out of Montreal, is yet another noteworthy company. They dominated the aforementioned awards ceremont. They also created “Splinter Cell,” a sophisticated, intelligent, and very well done game – so well done, in fact, that it’s going to have a movie based on it. How’s that for a reverse order of things? And, ironically enough, Ubisoft specializes in making video games based off movies, most notably Lord of the Rings and Star Wars games.

There are also smaller companies worth mentioning, such as MindHabits, whose slogan is “Great games from serious science.” MindHabits won Telefilm Canada’s Great Canadian Video Game Competition.

It’s become apparent that the Canadian gaming scene is thriving on a rich pool of talent and ambitious industry leaders. It has the tools it needs to be on the forefront of gaming – and at a time when many experts predict the industry will see some of the most significant growth of any.

Canada also has consumers ready and willing to purchase its gaming products. According to research by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, 96% of Canadian households own a computer and 48% of Canadian households have at least one video game console. And the targetable age group has diversified immensely, too. When video games were first gaining serious traction in the late 1990’s, it seemed as though only teens had any interest. But as those teens grew into adults, and as the gaming industry expanded tenfold, the game – so to speak – changed. Now, 84% of Parent Gamers aged 18-34 report that they play video games with their child, and the average age of a Canadian gamer is over 35 years (“Wellness” gaming, such as Wii Fit and Nintendo DS BrainAge, has attracted older demographics).

Go, Canada, go!