Facing opportunity – Alberta’s potential in the booming video game sector

Digital Alberta briefing — Fall 2021
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Facing opportunity – Alberta’s potential in the booming video game sector

New study shows Alberta losing ground in a competitive industry

November 9, 2021 — Today, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) released the 2021 Canadian Video Game Industry Report showing Alberta is losing out on growing and attracting video game companies and the high-paid, high-skilled jobs that accompany the sector.

“The fact of the matter is that Alberta is losing to the rest of Canada, but the province is in a prime position to seize the opportunity of the booming video game sector,” said Scott Nye, President of Digital Alberta. “As part of the broader economic recovery and strategy to keep jobs in Alberta, we are encouraging government to explore proven competitive incentives that are found in other thriving jurisdictions.”

According to the ESAC report, the industry contributed an estimated $5.5 billion in GDP to Canada’s economy – up 23% since 2019. In a time of economic decline and stagnation in other sectors caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, video games are bigger business than ever, continuing to exceed the film and music industries combined. Worldwide, video game revenues grew to US$175 billion in 2020. Estimates expect global revenue to exceed US$200 billion over the next few years, with an audience approaching three billion players.

Despite a positive horizon over a pandemic-induced two years, the regional distribution of growth remains lopsided. As it stands, slightly more than 80 per cent of Canada’s video game companies are located in B.C., Ontario and Quebec and they captured almost 90% of the 4600 new jobs created in the industry in the last two years. With over 32,000 FTE’s employed directly in the sector nationally, Alberta only represents four per cent of these jobs – well underrepresented on a per-capita basis.

“The province is currently home to 88 IDM companies, but other jurisdictions are attracting new studios and startups as well as seeing the expansion of existing studios.” said Nye. “Sector specific incentives for video game companies are working to create jobs in other provinces. There is no reason we can’t be doing the same here in Alberta. It’s time we build upon the strong foundation we have of video game companies in the province. We look forward to collaborating with government further to implement proven solutions that will work to create jobs here at home.”

Scott Nye is available for media interviews to discuss this issue further. For more information, contact Digital Alberta.