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Gaming in Canada – The State of Play

While the top spot for the biggest gaming market is an ongoing duel between North America and China, the industry here in Canada has been quietly building away in the background. Canada’s gaming market may not have hit the top five largest in the world as yet, but it’s by no means a minor player in the global game.

In fact, as we’ll discover in this article, the Canadian gaming market plays a vital role in sustaining the global gaming industry itself. Furthermore, it’s undergone massive development in recent years, which sees gaming in Canada contributing a significant percentage to the nation’s GDP.

According to statistics published in Nordcity’s annual report into the Canadian video game industry, in 2021, the Canadian gaming market contributed as much as $5.5 billion to GDP – a 23% growth since 2019.

What’s Contributing to the Growth in Gaming?  

Gaming, in general, is on the rise across the globe, so naturally, the same trends that contributed to its growth elsewhere have had the same impact here in Canada.

More and more people are turning to gaming as a convenient form of home entertainment, as evidenced by the medium now outperforming both movies and music streaming combined (according to a recent report published by Statista).

However, there have been several Canada-centric developments that have played a key role in driving the growth of the gaming market. In April 2022, for example, Ontario launched regulated iGaming in the province, giving players access to licensed digital poker in Ontario as well as sports betting and casino gaming.

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Canada has also been making a name for itself in the eSports verticals and is now home to several important teams, tournaments and eSports brands. The likes of OverActive Media, Battlefy and React Gaming Group are all headquartered in the country. Plus, Canada’s three eSports arenas have so far pulled in audiences of 1.5 million.

How Canada Contributes to Global Gaming  

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As mentioned above, Canada plays a pivotal role in the ongoing success of the global gaming industry. According to Nordicity, there are now over 935 active gaming studios and companies based in Canada – an impressive 35% increase since 2019 – 75% of which are Canadian-owned.

The business ecosystem comprises of major players responsible for hit titles like Dragon Age, Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed, right the way through to independent Canadian studios, including Smoking Gun Interactive (Age of Empires: Castle Siege) and Capybara Games (Grindstone).

Vancouver and Edmonton have welcomed leading developers like Electronic Arts and BioWare. However, Montreal is currently positioned as the Mecca of Canadian gaming. The province is where international gaming companies such as Eidos and Ubisoft have opened their biggest and most equipped development studios.

This ecosystem doesn’t just support the development of innovative gaming experiences; it’s also a thriving workforce. In 2021, there were 32,300 FTEs (full-time equivalent job roles) in the Canadian gaming market, growing by 17% since 2019. Additionally, companies across the board have reported that they currently have more employees than they did at the tail end of the 2010s.