Canada is today one of the global centers of the gaming industry. In fact, the Canadian video game industry is the third-largest in the world. Not only that, the industry contributes an enormous amount of money to the country’s GDP – some $5.5 billion.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the best Canadian game developers.
The State of the Canadian Gaming Industry
The gaming industry in Canada is huge, and it is continuously rising. In 2019, there were 692 game development studios in the country, which was a 16% rise compared to 2017 figures. But today, there are already 937 active studios – an amazing 35% rise compared to 2019. These studios cover Canada coast to coast, although most of them are located in Quebec and Ontario.
According to the report by The Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESA Canada), out of the $5.5 billion that the industry contributes to the GDP, $3.2 billion comes directly from gaming, and an additional $1.2 billion comes from “indirect and induced impacts.”
In 2021, there are 32,300 full-time equivalents (FTEs) working in the Canadian gaming industry, which is a 17% increase from 2019. Their average pay is $78,600 per year.
The COVID-19 crisis did not damage the industry in Canada, on the contrary. ESAC data shows that the majority of the 23 million Canadians, who have been playing video games during the pandemic, believe that this activity helped them emotionally and mentally. The report also showed that these people came from all age groups and backgrounds.
An additional aspect of the rise of gaming in Canada is the rise of the online casino gaming industry. Not only are various online casinos available to players from Canada, but joining them, players can find games made by famous iGaming developers, many of which are located in Canada.
Best Canadian Game Developers
Far too many gamers are not aware that many of their favorite games are produced in the Great White North. Here is our list of just a few Canadian developers that you should definitely be aware of.
This Vancouver-based company was founded back in 1997 – in 2004 it was bought by THQ, and in 2013 by Sega. The company is mostly known for its real-time strategy games, such as Homeworld.
They also developed many Warhammer 40,000 and Company of Heroes games. One of the best and most well-known games produced by Relic is the classic Age of Empires.
Next Level Games
Another Vancouver-based company – Next Level Games is a relatively small company with some 70 employees. It was started in 2002 and is mostly known for its work with Nintendo. Next Level Games released Mario Strikers and Punch-Out!, in addition to developing Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.
Already in 2014, the company announced that it will exclusively work with Nintendo, and in January of this year, Nintendo announced that it purchased Next Level Games. This means that the Vancouver-based studio is now one of the very rare Nintendo studios outside of Japan.
Founded in 1992, Behaviour Interactive, a company with almost 400 employees is considered a very big game design studio. It is based in Montreal, and when it was started it was known as Advance IT Institute.
They are also known for a Warhammer 40,000 game – the particular addition to the franchise Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade.
In recent years they’ve also become known for their mobile games, such as Fallout Shelter, an excellent mobile game based on the Fallout series, which allows you to run your own vault and act as Overseer.
Awesome Games Produced in Canada
As we said, Canada is the biggest gaming market in the world, after the USA and Japan. This means that many of the best video games out there come from Canada, like:
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
After the made in Quebec Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the adventure franchise went back to Montreal-based Ubisoft, which in 2020 produced Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. In this installment of the franchise, you play as a Viking raider in 873 AD who is caught up in the familiar ancient conflict between Assassins and Templars. The game offers everything the series is known for, but with a bigger emphasis on camaraderie since throughout the game, you are followed by your Viking gang.
Thunder Lotus described this game as a “cozy management game about dying”. You play as Stella who sails the world with your cute cat Daffodil and is trying to find lost souls and help them fulfill their final wishes. For some, this might sound like a heavy subject matter, but we think that Spiritfarer is a beautiful game with lovable characters and excellent writing.
Unto the End
This very challenging 2D action game was made by two Canadians living in California, Stephen Danton, and Sara Kitamura. Another beautifully handcrafted game with a touching story. You are a humble and outmatched father on a desperate journey to get back to your family. You need to outfight and outsmart numerous creatures that you will encounter in strange lands, using only your sword, dagger, and your wits.
As you can see, the Canadian gaming industry is not only one of the most developed and biggest in the world, but it is also a vibrant and vital part of the country’s economy. In addition to that, it is full of creative and very prolific design studios that are based in various Canadian cities, and which are producing some of the most sought games in the world. All the signs point to an even brighter future for Canada’s video game developers.