Today marks the start of Develop’s three-week focus on Canada’s games industry, in which we’ll profile all the major studios, look at the services offered across the country’s provinces, and speak to various trade bodies and government officials involved in a sector renowned for its generous tax breaks.
First off, we speak to Investissement Québec about a territory that plays host to a number of high-profile studios…
Famous for its French-speaking populace, the large Canadian province of Québec is located in the east of the territory adjacent to the vast expanse that is the Hudson Bay.
In a country renowned for recognising and supporting the games industry it hosts, Québec stands out as perhaps the most forward thinking province, and as a result has become home to numerous studios, publishers and tech companies.
Combining the roles of a financial institution and economic development agency, Investissement Québec is one of the key organisations that assists those running or establishing a games company in the area. As well as promoting Québec as a prime location for investment, the body prospects foreign investment, and offers support services to international subsidiaries in the state.
Luc Carignan, director of Investissement Québec’s London office, explains how the body provides such a service: “Since it was created in 1998, Investissement Québec has played a leading role in the economic development of Québec by supporting investment projects that total more close to $50 billion and have led to the creation of some 170,000 jobs.
“One of the main goals is to attract foreign video game companies in Québec. To do so, it provides all the information on comparative operation cost evaluation, how to built strategic alliances with local and international partners and find a location that suits the companies’ needs.”
And then, of course, there’s the tax benefits. The Québec government’s refundable tax credit for the production of multimedia titles means companies can substantially lower their production costs. Depending on the type of titles created, assistance can reach up to 37.5 per cent of labour costs.
“With a talented and creative workforce, low operating costs and generous state support, Québec is a world-leader in the gaming industry and attracts the best players,” asserts Carignan. “Leading developers, world-class software publishers and innovative studios all play a central role by creating a dynamic gaming environment.”
It’s hard to refute Carignan’s claims, with companies like EA, Ubisoft, Eidos and Activision’s Beenox thriving in the territory, alongside a huge range of smaller studios and firms like Autodesk hailing from Québec. With a 560 per cent rise in the number of people working in the region, things are clearly going very well.
But what makes Québec such a great place to make games? “All video game companies benefit from the fact that operating expenses are extremely competitive and they are eligible for generous tax credits,” suggests Carignan.
“In Québec there is a talented and creative workforce. Leading developers, world-class software publishers and innovative studios all play a central role by creating a dynamic gaming environment. Also, the industry can count upon the presence of 32 professional training colleges, 34 private technical colleges and seven universities offering multimedia programs that promote creativity that send more than 4,000 computer science and multimedia-related programs graduates on the labour market every year.”