Canadian video game industry catching up to TV & film production

TORONTO – The video game industry in Canada is growing by leaps and bounds and quickly catching up to film and television production as a major contributor to the economy.

The Entertainment Software Association of Canada says the video game industry spent $2.36 billion on Canadian production in 2014.

That’s up almost 50 per cent in one year and now nearly as much as the domestic film industry, which spent $2.67 billion in the fiscal year ended March 2014, according to figures supplied by the Canadian Media Production Association.

However, industry watchers say spending on video game production still amounts to less than half of total film and TV production in Canada when Hollywood studios and other foreign companies are included.

In its annual report on the state of the video game business, ESAC said the industry directly employs 20,400 people across the country at an average annual salary of $71,300.

The average age of employees is just 31 years.

There are 472 active game studios in Canada, up 143 since 2013, yet most of the employment is still at large studios such as Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard.

Canadian studios have produced high-profile titles such as Bioware Edmonton’s “Dragon Age: Inquisition;” Ubisoft Montreal’s “Assassin’s Creed Syndicate,” and Capcom Vancouver’s “Dead Rising 3.”

Quebec is Canada’s video game hub, accounting for around half of total employment and $1.14 billion in spending, followed by British Columbia and Ontario., ESAC says.

Mobile video gaming now accounts for 31 per cent of revenues, up 20 per cent from 2013, as consumers shift away from game consoles, which drove sales over the past decade.

Sales of games for consoles like the Sony PlayStation 4 or the Microsoft Xbox One still amount to 35 per cent of revenue, but have fallen by 32 per cent since 2013. PC gaming has remained steady at around a quarter of the industry’s revenues, the association said.