Video gaming in Canada

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People playing a video game at the Capybara Games booth at Fan Expo Canada

Canada has the third largest video game industry in terms of employment numbers following those in the US and in Japan,[1] with 20,400 employees, 472 companies, and a direct annual economic impact of nearly $3 billion added to Canada's GDP in 2015.[2][3] Video game development is beginning to rival the film and television production industry as a major contributor to the economy.[4]


Canada has become a major leader in the emerging video game industry.[5][6] Evolution and BC's Quest for Tires, both released in 1983, were the first video games developed in Canada that gained substantial commercial success.[7][8] Chris Gray and Peter Liepa, from Toronto and Ottawa respectively, together created Boulder Dash in 1983 which was later acquired and published by First Star Software.[9] In the past decade more companies have been moving from the West coast East, to Ontario and Quebec where there is more government support for studios and the cost of living is lower.[10][11][12]


In 2015, approximately 19 million Canadians identified as gamers (54% of the Canadian population).[3] The average age of the Canadian gamer was 33 years. By gender, 52% were male and 48% were female.[3] Console game revenue fell 32% from 2013 to 2015 but still accounts for 35% of the overall revenue.[3] Consoles are preferred to portable gaming compared to other countries.[13] Mobile games saw an increase of 20% from 2013 to 2015 and account for 31% of total revenue earned.[3] Computer game sales fell marginally (3%) and compose 25% of the revenue.[3] The most popular game genres in Canada are, in order of popularity, action-adventures, family games, and shooters.[3]


There has recently been a substantial amount of interest in the emergence of video game development as an industry in Canada and its impact on the economy, the creative industries, the role studios play in specific city ecosystems and how video games affect physically and mentally. A recent study was done at McMaster University studying how playing video games improves the eyesight of those who suffer from vision problems.[14] Montreal, Quebec is a particularly popular subject of study due to the maturity of the gaming industry and its overall urban ecology.[15][16]

Video game industry[edit]

Ubisoft studios in Montreal, one of many game studios in the province of Quebec. The province is the largest producer of video games in Canada.

80% of all Canadian game studios are located in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario.[3] Quebec is the largest producer of video games in Canada, housing 29.4% of all game studios (14 of which are large companies) and has annual expenditures of $1.14 billion.[3] British Columbia is the second largest, with 27.1% of companies residing in the province (4 of which are large companies) and spends $576 million annually.[3] The third largest video game producer is Ontario, which has 22.9% of all game studios (3 of which are large companies) and has annual expenditures of $264 million.[3]


Many Canadian post secondary institutions offer industry relevant courses in areas such as computer programming, animation/concept art, and game design. Many of the top programs are offered in either Vancouver, British Columbia or Toronto, Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area.[17] Industry employees earn an average of $72,500 annually and the average age of an employee in this industry is 31 years old.[3][18] According to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada in their 2015 report the skills that are most lacking in current recruitment pools are programming, art and animation, game design and data analysis.[3] As of 2016 it is anticipated that approximately 1,377 new jobs will be filled in the next 12–24 months, with approximately 40% being intermediate or senior level creative positions and approximately 60% being intermediate or senior level technical jobs.[3]


Canada is home to some of the biggest studios in the industry. Edmonton, Alberta hosts BioWare and Prince Edward Island is home to Other Ocean Interactive.[19] EA Canada, located in Burnaby, British Columbia, is a major contributor to the industry with popular, global franchises such as FIFA and Need for Speed and has 4 other studios in Canada (Charlottetown, Edmonton, Kitchener and Montreal).[20] Rockstar Vancouver was a sizeable contributor to the Vancouver gaming scene, as well as another Rockstar studio in Toronto. Montreal's Ubisoft studio is getting a large amount of attention worldwide as the lead studio for the Far Cry series and for their contributions to the Assassin's Creed franchise.[21] As a major studio they are attracting other video game developers and studios to Montreal further defining it as the gaming capital of Canada, as well as the other major game studio, Warner Brothers Interactive.[22][23] Ubisoft Toronto is also a large contributor to the global success of the Far Cry franchises as well as Splinter Cell Blacklist.[24]

As of 2015, the entertainment software industry is growing at unprecedented rates and shows no signs of slowing down. More opportunities are being created to learn the skills relevant to the industry and as more job opportunities are being created allowing this industry to experience a healthy boom.[25][15] Many strong game development studios choosing to locate to Canada help to not only strengthen the industry but promote its longevity. Large scale gaming events such as the Canadian Videogame Awards, Fan Expo Canada and ComiCon help to promote the industry and encourage its growth.[25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Canada boasts the third-largest video game industry". 2010-04-06. Archived from the original on 2010-04-12. Retrieved 2011-05-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  2. ^ Nutt, Christian (November 16, 2015). "Canada's game dev industry grows: 472 studios, 20,400 people". Gamasutra. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Essential Facts About the Canadian Video Game Industry" (PDF). Entertainment Software Association of Canada. 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Canadian video game industry catching up to TV & film production". Retrieved 2016-03-08.
  5. ^ "The evolution of video games in Canada". CBC News. 2010-09-13. Retrieved 2011-05-11.
  6. ^ "Canadian-made games and the question of outsourcing". CBC News. 2011-02-20. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  7. ^ Peter Nowak (2010-09-13). "The evolution of video games in Canada". CBC News.
  8. ^ Paul Jay (2008-10-17). "Canadian traditions: Hockey, double doubles ... and video games?". CBC News.
  9. ^ Peter Nowak (2010-09-13). "The evolution of video games in Canada, part 2". CBC News.
  10. ^ "Canadian Prime Minister Visits Ubisoft Montreal". Retrieved 2016-03-08.
  11. ^ "How A Small Government Program Helped Turn Toronto Into A Videogame Sanctuary". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
  12. ^ "Vancouver's video-game industry is slowly disappearing - Canadian Business - Your Source For Business News". Canadian Business - Your Source For Business News. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  13. ^ "Nintendo Canada GM Pierre-Paul Trepanier on what makes Canadian gamers different". Retrieved 2017-10-05.
  14. ^ Sanders, Laura (March 10, 2012). "Video games improve vision". Science News. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  15. ^ a b Darchen, Sebastien; Tremblay, Diane-Gabrielle (2015-02-01). "Policies for Creative Clusters: A Comparison between the Video Game Industries in Melbourne and Montreal". European Planning Studies. 23 (2): 311–331. doi:10.1080/09654313.2013.865712. ISSN 0965-4313.
  16. ^ Grandadam, David; Cohendet, Patrick; Simon, Laurent (2013-11-01). "Places, Spaces and the Dynamics of Creativity: The Video Game Industry in Montreal". Regional Studies. 47 (10): 1701–1714. doi:10.1080/00343404.2012.699191. ISSN 0034-3404.
  17. ^ "Top 10 Animation, Gaming and Art and Design Schools in Canada". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  18. ^ "Canada's Video Game Industry in 2011". Tech Vibes. Archived from the original on 17 November 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  19. ^ "Canada's gaming industry is kicking butt". Financial Post. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
  20. ^ "Locations Worldwide | EA Careers Canada". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  21. ^ "Our studio". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  22. ^ Hope-Johnston, Synden. "Montreal Is Hosting A Video Game Takeover This May". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  23. ^ "WB Games Montréal". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  24. ^ "Ubisoft Toronto - Welcome to our World". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  25. ^ a b Barrett, Jessica (2014-02-03). "Labour crunch hits canada's video game industry". Leader Post. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  26. ^ "Canadian Videogame Awards - CVA 2015". CVA 2015. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  27. ^ "Toronto ComiCon". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  28. ^ "Vancouver Comicon". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  29. ^ "Home - Comiccon". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  30. ^ "Gaming Expo News | Fan Expo Canada". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  31. ^ "Fan Expo Vancouver". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  32. ^ "Fan Expo Regina". Retrieved 2016-03-09.

External links[edit]