The long-standing Canadian video gaming rivalry between Toronto and Montreal has spanned for many decades. It peaked in an intense hockey rivalry between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. With the friction unresolved, the battle over superiority rages on.
This rivalry has evolved to the point of comparisons of both cities’ industries. In this respect, a somewhat new entertainment form is pushing the rivalry to new heights. Video games.
In 2016, the video game industry accounted for $101.1 billion in sales. Video gamers now have plenty of options between home consoles, mobile gaming and personal computers. According to market research group, New Zoo, 2017 sales will reach a new high of $109 billion. Video gaming has been booming for decades and shows no signs of slowing.
Video Gaming in Montreal
Most recently, gaming companies hoping to take advantage of the boom have moved to Quebec. The French-speaking province is welcoming of the industry thanks to a government program. The program offers to subsidize 37.5% of the company’s payroll as refundable tax credit. The program began in the late 1990s as an attempt to transform Quebec from a manufacturing economy to a “new economy” by investing in an artistic industry such as video games. As a result, Quebec has drawn in companies considered to be titans of the gaming industry. Companies like Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Warner Bros. Games are reaping the financial benefits. They account for acclaimed hits and popular franchises like Batman, South Park, Far Cry, and Assassin’s Creed.
Montreal is home to many young programmers looking for experience and pay. What’s more, they’re able to boast about working at one of the huge video game studios that make Montreal their home. Their industry’s growth rate since 2002 has surprised many. Montreal is the fifth-largest hub for video gaming in the world. That is only behind Tokyo, London, San Francisco and Austin. In 2016, approximately 230 video game companies are open with over 10, 000 people working in the field.
Where does that leave the little guy? The indie video game developer who wants to create and own their respective property? They set up shop in Toronto.
Video Gaming in Toronto
Many independent developers see Toronto as a haven for creativity to thrive. Gamma Space is one of the city’s many collaborative workspaces for freelancers looking to network. Since the group’s start in 2012, they have held over 1000 functions for those interested. Owner, Henry Faber, gives his opinion on the reluctance of major companies opening in the city. He calls Toronto a “relatively expensive for a corporate entity.”
The pros of working in Toronto are the creative freedom and the opportunity for interactivity among pros. This is in huge contrast to the more insular feeling of working in Montreal. Career and opportunity exist in the Quebecois city, however, there is an underlying problem. Independent developer, Patrice Désilets explains, “The big studios, they make big games in Montreal but most of the real money goes back to the headquarters in a different country.” He continues, “The studio in Montreal is basically just a cost centre.”
Consumers worldwide spend over $100 billion on some form or other of video gaming. With that level of revenue, a city rivalry must take a backseat to the reality. The reality is that there is a tremendous potential for earning money in the gaming industry in Canada.
Alex Correa | The Edge Blog