×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Tax Incentive Helps Montreal Become Videogame Central

Government’s 37.5% credit helps biz attain the next level

When Hollywood takes film projects north of the border, the most frequent stop is Vancouver. But when Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment was looking for a videogame hub, the search ended a good deal farther East.

“It’s amazing how many developers there are within five square kilometers (in Montreal),” says Martin Tremblay, the former Vivendi Games and Ubisoft Montreal topper who joined WBIE in 2008. In fact, Tremblay spearheaded the drive to open WB Games in the city.

RELATED: Female Avatars Slowly Gain Ground in Videogame Worlds

It’s estimated there are 8,000 videogame developers in Montreal, half of the total in Canada. (Vancouver has between 4,000 and 5,000 vidgame workers.) Ubisoft remains far and away the biggest player, with 2,400 staffers.

Other key players on the Montreal videogame scene include WB, Eidos Montreal and THQ Monreal, which Ubisoft acquired in January.

The driving force behind the fast-paced growth of the industry is the Quebec government’s videogame tax credit, which pays 37.5% of employee salaries.

RELATED: U.K. Set to Give Videogames Tax Breaks

“It’s the mix of the tax incentives and the local creative expertise (that has grown the sector),” says Quebec Film commissioner Hans Fraikin.

Fraikin notes that the city’s history as a CGI software hub — thanks to companies like Softimage, Discreet Logic and now Autodesk — has also helped establish its rep. Another plus is the city’s growing visual effects industry; talent routinely moves between the videogame and visual effects sectors.

WB set up its studio in the spring of 2010, and has produced a number of games, including “Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition”; “Cartoon Universe” and “Lego Legends of Chima Online” are in development. The studio has a staff of 300 in Montreal. It is also the first location where Warner Bros. started up a gaming studio from scratch rather than buying an existing facility.

Ubisoft was the first major videogame company to set up shop in Montreal, beginning modestly in 1997 with 50 people, which has grown to 2,400. Under Tremblay’s watch from 2000-06, the Montreal branch of the French videogames giant became one of the leading games studios in the world, producing hits “Splinter Cell,” “Rainbow Six” and “Prince of Persia.” Recent games produced by Ubisoft in Montreal include “Assassin’s Creed” and “Watch Dogs.”

RELATED: French Establish Global Avatars In Videogame Biz

“The industry grew up so fast; we trained a lot of people in the videogame business,” says Luc Duchaine, director of communications for Ubisoft’s Montreal studio.

There has even been talk that the boom in the videogame business here has made it tougher to recruit.

“It is always challenging to get good talent,” Duchaine says. “The goal is to get the right talent.”

Ubisoft, for one, has become an international destination for vidgame workers. French, Brits and Americans constitute nearly one quarter of the workforce.

“In terms of concentration, I don’t think there’s anything like Montreal,” Tremblay says. “There’s a real ecosystem of high-end developers here. If things keep going the way they are, in five or 10 years, it could be the next Silicon Valley in terms of videogames.”

More Biz

  • Obit Obituary Placeholder

    Talent Agent Joseph Eric Rice Dies at 61

    Joseph Eric Rice, a talent agent who headed JR Talent Group, died unexpectedly at his home in Laguna Beach, Calif. He was 61. Rice headed his own talent agency based in Studio City where he primary handled actors. Earlier in his career, he headed the theatrical department at Abrams Artists Agency. Rice was born in [...]

  • Terry Back chairman ACF

    Veteran U.K. Media Investor Terry Back Joins ACF as Chairman

    CANNES — Veteran U.K. film industry investor Terry Back has joined ACF investment bank as chairman. ACF, headed by CEO Thomas Dey, has been at the forefront of the M&A activity around independent TV and film production outfits, mostly in the unscripted TV arena. ACF is in the midst of expanding its activities in the [...]

  • Santos Dumont

    Mipcom: International TV Output Picture Changing for U.S. Majors

    The global import-export strategies of the U.S. majors are in flux as the world’s major content companies gather this week in Cannes for the annual Mipcom market and conference. Disney, WarnerMedia and the other handful of media conglomerates that control the vast majority of the U.S. market are in the midst of a radical transition [...]

  • Jane Fonda Arrested

    Jane Fonda Arrested in D.C. During Climate Change Protest

    Jane Fonda was arrested on Friday in Washington, D.C. during a climate change protest, Variety has confirmed. “Today, the United States Capitol Police arrested 16 individuals for unlawfully demonstrating on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol,” Capitol Police communications director Eva Malecki said in a statement to Variety. She added that all were charged with crowding, [...]

  • Firefighters battle the Saddleridge fire in

    Saddleridge Fire Forces Evacuations, TV Production Shutdowns

    A wind-whipped wildfire has spread across parts of the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles and forced evacuations, threatened thousands of homes and closed parts of five major freeways. The Saddleridge fire has prompted mandatory evacuations affecting about 100,000 people between Porter Ranch, Granada Hills and Sylmar. Mandatory evacuations have been called for about [...]

  • amazon-studios

    Amazon Studios Pacts With Howard University for Entertainment Education Program

    Howard University and Amazon Studios have teamed to launch Howard Entertainment, a two-semester program based in Los Angeles that offers Howard students the ability to take courses, network with Amazon industry partners and gain work experience in the entertainment industry. The inaugural program will begin January. The curriculum and immersive experiences will start with academic [...]

  • Remembering Prince

    Prince Estate Slams Trump Campaign for Playing ‘Purple Rain’ at Minneapolis Rally

    The Prince Estate strongly criticized the Trump campaign for playing “Purple Rain” at a Minneapolis rally in which the president made multiple aggressive and juvenile comments about Democratic leaders, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce and Jay-Z. In a statement posted on social media, the Estate wrote, “President Trump played Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ tonight at a campaign event [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content