It’s estimated that between 4000 – 5,000 people work in the B.C. video-game industry, mostly in and around Metro Vancouver. With great companies like EA, Rockstar, Radical and many others its no wonder that there is a nerd surplus in this city. Just look at the sales of pocket protectors at Staples, its through the roof. Just to put things into perspective, the world’s largest video-game publisher, Electronic Arts, generates $1 billion in sales per year from games created by its campuses in Vancouver. Note that these companies typically offer high paying, well respected careers, hell even the receptionists get stock options. The economic benefits of having these kinds of companies are huge and simply can’t be ignored. Video games are already big business, and with the advent of the Nintendo Wii more and more old farts with arthritis and erectile disfunctions are giving video games a chance for the first time since Commodore 64, thus expanding the industry $$$.
Knowing this, Premier Gordon Campbell announced the extension of a tax-credit program for the film industry to 2012. Which is great, but Gordo, you need to do the same for the video game industry. Quebec has already offered tax incentives for developers, Ontario will follow suit. If BC doesn’t do the same, then major development houses will locate elsewhere, see Montreal and Ubisoft. Its simple economics. This is an industry that needs to be nurtured and the Libs have taken some steps towards that. However, they aren’t moving as fast as the industry. As is the case with government they’re always 2 steps behind.
Vancouver has all the ingredients necessary to develop and become an even bigger player in the video game bizz. We got the talent, better tax rates (see Mr. Skeets post from yesterday) and an excellent locale. You would think that Montreal is the hotbed for development in Canada the way they talk. Quite frankly, looking at the last report from New Media BC, they’re half the size of the development capacity and talent pool that’s in Vancouver. Our problem, we tend to rely far too much on our natural beauty and great quality of life and need to do a helluva lot more. Sitting on their asses ain’t gonna cut it no more.