The video game industry is lucrative across the globe, and Canada is no exception. Canada serves as a dynamic hub for video game companies. By marrying innovation with creativity, Canada boasts over 900 studios and a market value surpassing $5 billion. Renowned names like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, and BioWare have cemented a strong presence in the Canadian market, contributing to the country’s growing gaming prowess.
skilled workforce, supportive government policies, and a diverse gaming portfolio make Canada a critical influencer in the gaming world. This attitude also fosters an environment ripe for innovation, technological evolution, and immersive experiences.
Beyond traditional video games, Canada’s industry has embraced online gambling with regulations and laws allowing for greater access to virtual casinos. This burgeoning sector intertwines technology, entertainment, and the thrill of risk-taking, all from the comfort of players’ devices. If you count iGaming software companies like Bragg Gaming Group, which provides software for many sites, including our top spot as the best Canadian casino, the gaming industry is even bigger and shows no signs of slowing.
Here’s a little overview of the Canadian gaming industry’s history, current size, market value, and more. Keep an eye on this exciting area!
Canada’s video game saga kicks off in the 1980s. Distinctive Software started in 1983 in Burnaby, BC. This powerhouse was eventually swooped by Electronic Arts in 1991, becoming the first branch of EA Canada. The original 80-member crew that launched the department now numbers in the thousands with teams across the country.
Vancouver was an important hub during the 1990s, with studios like Radical Entertainment, Relic Entertainment, and Barking Dog Studios taking off. Ontario and Quebec also appeared on the scene—St. Catharine’s is the birthplace of Silicon Knights, and Ubisoft Montreal started up in 1997. They’ve since expanded to Toronto in 2009.
Edmonton is home to BioWare, the rebel studio that began in 1995. Nowadays, BioWare is part of EA and continues to produce immersive and expansive games such as the iconic Mass Effect. BioWare is also behind the fantasy epic Dragon Age.
Video game giants are all over this country and continue to rock the gaming scene—see what the future holds as you read on.
Size & Location
Canada is host to 937 active video game studios. According to experts, that’s a 35 percent increase from 2019 to 2021. Eighty percent of these companies exist in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia. Ontario has the most with 298 companies, Quebec comes in second at 291, and British Columbia trails third with 161. Still, almost all of the country’s provinces have video game studios, including lesser-expected areas such as Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta. These numbers have also steadily increased yearly, showing promising growth for the Canadian gaming industry.
As of 2019, British Columbia had the most companies with five to 99 employees, as opposed to companies with less than four team members. This may indicate a steady growth and maturity for smaller companies in the province. Quebec has the most large-scale video game companies (studios that employ over 100 people).
British Columbia also does well in the large-scale game. Across the board, most video game studios are classified as “micro”—a category Ontario excels in. As of 2019, Ontario has 179 video game companies with less than four employees. It’s a niche but rapidly growing market! The success of these tiny companies shows that Canada is fertile ground for video gamers.
Numbers collected in 2021 estimate that the total revenue earned by Canada’s video game companies is $4.3 billion. That’s a whopping 20 percent increase since 2019. Primary sources of income for video game companies vary. A little less than half—48 percent— of total revenue comes from intercompany or transfer pricing. This can be explained by the fact that most of the industry’s revenue is first generated by big wig companies with international headquarters.
Intercompany transfers play an essential role in making money—especially during the early days when creatives and businesspeople alike are most interested in developing a game. Unsurprisingly, in-app or in-game sales are another large revenue generator. They make up 21 percent of the total.
In order to understand the value of the Canadian gaming industry’s value and reach, it’s important to look at GDP. Estimates show that the video game industry contributed over $3 billion to GDP in 2021. That’s 23 percent higher than in 2019, a growth number that bodes very well for the future of Canada’s gaming industry.
Online Gambling & Video Games
Online wagering on slots, game show games, live dealers, and more has also been a boon for the video game industry. Take Grand Theft Auto Online—the wildly popular game has a bespoke casino where players can wager real money, all in the game’s immersive experience.
The intersection between online gambling and video games has become all the more apparent with the continued development of appealing online gambling experiences and accessibility due to changed regulations. The industry is highly regulated, so the games available set a high bar for quality and entertainment value. Online gambling and video games are kindred spirits in Canada and worldwide.
Canada’s gaming universe is a glittering galaxy of innovation and evolution. The industry’s growth has been meteoric from the ‘80s origins of Distinctive Software to today’s many small but mighty video game studios across the country. British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario emerged as epicentres, nurturing giants like BioWare and Ubisoft. Canada’s gaming realm shines bright with nearly 1,000 active studios as of 2021 and a $4.3 billion revenue in 2021. This vibrant industry is well worth watching—the Canadian video game scene promises an exciting future!