The Entertainment Software Association of Canada is unveiling its 2011 Report on the Canadian Entertainment Software Industry (PDF) right about now at a luncheon event in Toronto. This year’s report shows that our industry, while undergoing somewhat of a metamorphosis, is maturing and becoming more mainstream as games become more and more a part of modern culture.
The study was conducted by Secor, and shows the many components of the digital media industry sector that play a part in Canada’s success as a leading developer of entertainment software. From schools to ancillary contractors and service providers, it is apparent that our national development landscape is comprised of highly talented people across the creative, technological and managerial sectors.
There is a wealth of information contained in this latest study, but I will not go into a lot of detail here, because I feel that it’s more important for those of you who are stakeholders in the entertainment software industry to read and digest the information for yourselves.
The main drivers of this success as a national video gaming industry include:
- Being predominantly a ‘made-in-Canada’ industry: many of the most important video games and video game companies were started in Canada by Canadians.
- Offering increasingly rich ecosystems of video game development and related support companies, providing to publishers the ability to build and test all components of a new product locally.
- Producing well-trained talent, particularly at the university and college levels.
As well as our having attractive economics for video game companies:
- Canadian governments at both the federal and provincial levels have developed a range of programs applicable to video game companies.
- Over several decades and until very recently, the Canadian dollar has been relatively cheap in comparison to the U.S. dollar.
- Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto, Canada’s dominant video game clusters, are well-known for their quality of life and more broadly, Canada itself has long been known as a desirable country to live and do business in.
- Positioning between the export markets of Asia and Europe, and in the same time zones as the major U.S.-based video game publishers.
- Being a multicultural society, Canada has significant language and cultural overlaps with the United States, Europe, and Asia.
- Receiving support from a variety of video game and interactive/digital industry associations
- Attracting frequent and well-informed attention from the Canadian media.
Overall industry developments since the release of the previous report in 2009 include the arrival of tablets and the increasing penetration of smart phones, along with the success of motion-sensor games and changes in the console introduction cycles. As well, there have been changes within the Video Gaming Categories as a whole, with console gaming profits still concentrating on blockbusters and Triple A console publishers increasing the proportion of their revenue earned through online sales. The rise of social, mobile and cloud gaming has also played a significant role in both industry changes and challenges.
As you read through this report, you will see how important it is for companies to participate in studies such as this, and it was somewhat disheartening to see that information about companies from an entire province was not included in the overall snapshot of our national positioning because no companies from the province participated in the study. I will not reveal which province it was, because as I mentioned above, I feel that all of you should download and study this report to interpret what it means not only for your company but for the future of digital media production in Canada. I’ve said many times that if we want to see Canada move to the top of the global list and dominate the world in entertainment software, we will all have to work together to get there. Just as each title is more often than not a team effort, so should the health of this industry be a national effort.
I am not naive in thinking that regional politics, economics and personalities won’t always play a part in this industry, but I think there comes a time when those politics need to be set aside for the greater good of our success, because we can accomplish more with team work than by pitting sectors against each other and diluting the quality not only of our titles but of our community.
Congratulations to everyone at ESAC and Secor – and to those companies who participated – for producing a very insightful and informative report – and thank you for letting me play a small part in the final product.