In terms of employee numbers, Canada is home to the third biggest video game industry in the world. 16,000 people are employed by games firms across 348 companies, according to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada.
This is largely due to the thriving development community in major cities such as Vancouver and Montreal. Many leading publishers have flagship studios in the region, including EA, Ubisoft, THQ and Square Enix.
Granted, a significant lubricant between these creative cogs is the offer of generous tax breaks – something that has tempted many UK developers to cross the Atlantic.
But there are a number of long-running studios that have been creating popular games long before the big publishers conquered the region. Resident developers include BioWare and Eternal Darkness studio Silicon Knights.
FIFA, Madden, Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Deus Ex – all are developed in Canada.
That’s not to say retail doesn’t have a strong presence in Canada. The sector is led by well-known chains such as EB Games, owned by GameStop, and Best Buy.
Such is the strength of the market, PlayNTrade – the world’s largest video games retail franchiser – expanded its presence in the region through a merger with a local chain earlier this year.
“PlayNTrade just merged with the Canada-based Dimension JMM,” explains PlayNTrade’s vice president of operations Martin Tardif. “We intend to maintain a leadership position in North America.”
But it’s a very competitive market. Last year, HMV?Canada decided it couldnt compete and dropped its games offer.
The ESA adds that the Canadian games industry generated $1.7bn in retail sales in 2010, with a whopping $886m taken through sales of console and handheld games, and $513m from hardware sales.
The nation’s games market is expected to grow a further 17 per cent by 2013.
Currency: Canadian dollar
GDP (per capita): $50,436
Capital City: Ottawa
Languages: English, French
KEY RETAILERS AND WHOLESALERS
Best Buy, EB Games/GameStop, Future Shop, Microplay, PlayNTrade, Walmart
E One, Importel, Just4Games, Solutions 2 Go, Vidéoglobe
2K Play, Aerosoft, Artificial Mind & Movement (A2M), Atomic Robot, Beenox, Big Fish Games, BigPark, BioWare (Edmonton and Montreal), Capcom Vancouver, Cyanide Studio, Disney Interactive Studios, Eidos Montreal, EA Canada/EA Montreal, Funcom, Gameloft, HB Studios, Hothead Games, Jet Black Games, Koei Canada, Next Level Games, Piranha Games, Relic Entertainment, Rockstar Toronto/Rockstar Vancouver, Silicon Knights, Strategy First, THQ Montreal, Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Quebec/Ubisoft Toronto, United Front Games, Warner Bros Montreal, Zynga Toronto
PUBLISHERS WITH A LOCAL OFFICE
2K Games, Activision, Disney, EA, Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, Tecmo