When you think of massive gaming markets, naturally, your mind probably turns to East Asia or North America. Launching a new gaming brand or mobile gaming app in Canada might not be the most obvious choice, but did you know that Canada has played a vital role behind the scenes of the gaming industry and is beginning to break through to the forefront?
In this article, we’ll dive into some key statistics about the blossoming gaming industry here in Canada, as well as take a look at the major players in gaming who’ve chosen to make the Great White North their home.
Gaming’s Impact on the Canadian GDP
The beauty of Canada is that it’s a mixed market economy. While real estate, agriculture and our natural resources contribute the most to Canadian Gross Domestic Product, gaming is beginning to contribute a significant percentage.
According to Nordcity’s annual video game report, in 2021, gaming generated approximately $5.5 billion of the year’s GDP. Not only was this figure a major contributor, but it also displayed an impressive growth of 23% in just two years. On this basis, even a careful estimation would put the gaming industry as one to enter for aspiring Canadian start-ups.
The Factors Impacting Gaming’s Rise in Canada
Gaming has surged in popularity all over the world and not just in developed economies either. Now that we are well and truly in the digital age, people reach for video games on a daily basis, whether to stay entertained or even as a profession. Gaming is quickly becoming the top choice of home entertainment for people all over the world, outperforming both music streaming and movies combined.
The emergence of eSports on the world stage is also positively impacting Canada’s gaming market. We are currently home to several notable teams, eSports brands and tournaments – some of which are contested by international players, not just Canadian teams. With three eSports arenas in the country, which collectively have attracted an audience of 1.5 million, Canada provides eSports brands like OverActive Media, React Gaming Group and Battlefy with ample opportunity to capitalize on this growing trend.
Meanwhile, the Canadian government’s willingness to move with the times and legislate burgeoning sectors like iGaming only serves to strengthen the country’s position as a major player in the global gaming industry. Characterized by digital platforms offering a variety of card and table games – including classic casino games like roulette – when legislated, iGaming provides one of the most responsible ways to engage in real money-wagering activities. We’ve seen just how popular iGaming is with the Canadian audience in the success of the PokerStars Casino platform. Having launched in the region in the summer of 2022, the platform has helped contribute to a market that is currently worth around $1.6 billion. PokerStars Casino, which offers several variants of the most classic titles, such as roulette and its different variants, as well as slots and blackjack, has continued to evolve since its launch, offering different payment methods and a highly visual platform.
Canadian Video Game Development
At the heart of the gaming business ecosystem is video game development. Without a commitment to ongoing innovation, none of the numerous subsectors that exist within the gaming industry today would survive. And where have some of the world’s leading video game development companies chosen to base their headquarters? Right here in Canada.
According to Nordcity’s report, in 2021, there were a grand total of 937 active video game development companies in Canada. Not just that, but the number of gaming companies operating last year was 35% greater than in 2019. Quebec and Ontario saw the biggest growth, with 137 new active companies setting up shop within their borders.
Such a significant number of new companies being able to establish themselves within just two years indicates the relative lack of barriers to entry present in the gaming market here in Canada, but the incumbent gaming brands aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Since the early days of video gaming, major game development companies and publishing houses have established themselves in Montreal, Quebec and Edmonton.
Bioware, for instance, needs no introduction in the gaming world. Currently employing over 800 people, BioWare was initially founded in 1995 in the province of Alberta. This is a studio that’s responsible for some of the greatest games ever made, such as the Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises and the best-selling Star Wars RGP, Knights of the Old Republic.
Even multinational brands have chosen Canadian shores to base their headquarters on. Japanese company Capcom has established a base in Vancouver, while Electronic Arts doesn’t just have its 1000-employee-strong studio in Burnaby; it also set up two studios in Montreal.