The recent closures of two gaming studios Radical Entertainment and Rockstar Vancouver has finally caught the attention of the city’s political elite. This is definitely a cause for concern because the ripple effects it can have on Vancouver’s digital sector, could stifle and ultimately put a halt to a growth industry. This is an industry cities around the world would kill to have in their back yard. We in Vancouver have it and are squandering an opportunity to further entrench our role in the new digital media age.
Having recognized the importance Mayor Gregor Robertson will be bringing a motion to next week’s Council throwing his full support for Vancouver’s digital media sector.
From the Mayor’s press release:
Vancouver’s economy has been bolstered tremendously over the past three years by the creation of well over a thousand new high-skilled, high-paying jobs in digital media and visual effects. These sectors now employ a total of over 25,000 employees in 1300 companies, and Vancouver is now one of the world’s top three global clusters for digital media jobs.
That success is fragile though, and other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world are launching significant new strategies to increase their competitiveness for digital media investment.
That’s why the Mayor is acting to ensure that Vancouver sustains and expands upon its leading position as a hub for global investment in digital media, and calling upon the province to protect and create jobs by making BC’s competitiveness incentives even more robust and attractive.
The problem is that there is very little the mayor can do. He can throw his support but ultimately it lies in the hands of the provincial government. Sadly the current provincial government doesn’t seem to be working to well. We’ll see how it plays out once the NDP comes in power.
Why Mayor Robertson is throwing his support behind the digital media industry in Vancouver.
- The interactive digital media and visual effects sectors are a major part of Vancouver’s economy, employing more than 25,000 employees in 1300 companies;
- There are a number of internationally recognized post-secondary institutions in Vancouver that produce highly skilled graduates for these sectors, which supports local hiring and a robust regional workforce that makes up a significant component of Vancouver’s global advantage;
- The Province of British Columbia has established an effective tax credit policy that helps to attract companies in some digital media sectors, and has worked with the Government of Canada to lead changes in immigration policy that has contributed to the establishment of Vancouver as one of the top three global clusters in the world, behind only London and Los Angeles;
- Vancouver has an Economic Action Strategy that has made job creation and investment attraction an explicit priority in sectors like interactive digital media and visual effects, and has successfully supported the creation of over 1,000 jobs in the last three years alone in this industry;
- Vancouver is gaining strength and growing in some segments of the interactive digital media sectors, like visual effects and animation, but is seeing a rapid decline in other segments like console gaming;
- Under the Ontario Interactive Media Tax Credit, video game developers are eligible to receive up to a 37.5 per cent tax credit with additional stacked incentives, compared to the 17.5 per cent offered by BC’s Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit, which limits stackable incentives;
- These strategies and incentive policies in other jurisdictions, such as Ontario and Quebec, have influenced the decisions of gaming companies to leave Vancouver, dropping the region’s ranking from Number 1 to Number 3 over the past 3 years;
- The departure of these companies and the talent associated with them has implications on the broader talent pool for Interactive Digital Media and screen-based sectors that could eventually threaten the stability of the entire cluster
Photo credit: City of Vancouver