By Nathan Rudyk

Wow, just two days ago I was bowled over by the superbly confident, un-Canadian coverage of Ontario's gaming industry in Techvibes. Today, Allison Cross, Business Reporter with the Toronto Star, decided to join us in dropping the gloves on Canadian modesty to celebrate Ontario's gaming industry surge

Allison's feature story was inspired by the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance's GTMA International Digital Media Summit, held simultaneously in Toronto and across Europe Feb. 7th via Cisco Canada's amazing TelePresence facility in downtown Toronto. 

The message GTMA delivered at its Summit was that Toronto and Ontario companies, along with the province's many fine academic institutions (22 universities and colleges are pumping out more than 18,000 graduates per year from 174 specialized digital media programs including 3D animation, film studies, advanced computer programming, math, and hardware engineering) have successfully turned the corner from supplying the world with great talent, to keeping that talent at home to build companies, jobs, and wealth inside the province. 

Allison took GTMA's message to the next level, seeking out and interviewing a selection of companies and organizations both inside Toronto and throughout Ontario. Those companies included gaming powerhouse Ubisoft, that has so far staffed more than 100 jobs at its new Toronto studio,  to St. Catharines-based Silicon Knights, a home-grown success story that has another 100 employees and is planning its expansion throughout the Ontario Technology Corridor. 

More from the Toronto Star's story on the secret sauces responsible for the surge of success in Ontario's gaming industry:

Ian Kelso, the president of Interactive Ontario, a not-for-profit digital media trade organization, said he’s seen a surge over the past three years in the number of gaming companies starting up in Ontario.

“Toronto has become globally recognized for its thriving independent scene. We’ve seen it reflected in our membership, which has gone from about 120 companies to about 300 companies,” Kelso said. “A lot of those are game start-ups.”

To support these start-ups, the Ontario government announced in last year’s budget they would increase the Ontario Digital Media Tax Credit to 40 per cent from 30 per cent for corporations that develop and market their own products.

This means video game companies can get help covering labour costs, and marketing and distribution expenses.

The Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) also doles out the interactive digital media fund. Last month, it announced 19 recipients from across the province would share $2 million in funding.

Most of those recipients’ projects were gaming related.

Financial incentives and industry growth have helped foster a supportive and creative environment, said Kristine Murphy, the OMDC’s director of industry development.

“Ontario is a thriving independent game development jurisdiction,” she said. “There’s growth in the independent games, (particularly) for games being developed for a variety of platforms: the iPhone, BlackBerry, all of the small hand-held devices (and) social media games.”

The full Toronto Star article is here. Thanks GTMA! Go Ontario! Go Canada!

(Nathan Rudyk is President and CEO with market2world communications inc., the public relations and product marketing agency for global innovators.)

Comment