A question asked by many within the video game industry, and certainly one worth discussing, is what makes Canada such a great environment for game developers? There are several reasons why so many game companies either are created from scratch in Canada, or move here from elsewhere, and we will explore them in this article.
Let’s start with the success story that is Ubisoft. Before coming to Montréal, Québec, the company operated in few locations of France, mainly Paris and Montpellier (in the South where Rayman was created). Then in 1997, something happened: they were convinced by a smart lobbyist to expand in Canada. Meanwhile, that same lobbyist managed to convinced the Québec government to help the French company with some tax incentives. The rest is history.
However, that short and simple example is only part of the answer. What makes Canada so attractive for game development goes way beyond financial incentives.
As with the United States, Canada is historically a country built on immigration. And as with our neighbours to the south, it never stopped. People move to Canada from everywhere in the world for the promise of a good life and stable employment. With a few exceptions, Canada offers relatively more accessible ways of acquiring a work visa compared to other countries.
Cities like Montréal offer very high quality of life compared to a global average, so it’s no surprise people choose to come live here. Which in turn explains why we have such a diverse ecosystem of gaming companies. With designers, artists, musicians, programmers, producers, and writers coming from all over the world, Canada ends up with a very rich talent pool in this industry.
Moreover, as a French and English-speaking country, Canada has a lower barrier to entry in that regard. This in part explains why the gaming industry in Québec is always booming while it’s harder than ever to get into it in France. Although the two regions don’t share the same culture at all, having a common ground in the language department definitely helps.
Furthermore, the financial help entrepreneurs can get to create a new company in Canada – not only from the government, but also on a provincial and even local level – is one of the best in the world. Non-profit organizations like la Guilde in Québec or Interactive Ontario are here to help video game studios, whether they’re well established or new to the scene.
Finally, there are a lot of events designed for developers of all levels of the industry, such as MEGA MIGS in Montréal. That sense of community and camaraderie is ultimately one of the main things that make Canada such a great place to work and make video games in.