×
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.”

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show premiere,

    Amazon Prime Video Signs Distribution Deal With Altice Europe (EXCLUSIVE)

    Amazon Prime Video has unveiled its first distribution deal with a telco in France, signing a pact with Altice Europe, which owns leading French internet, mobile and cable-TV provider SFR. The deal will give SFR customers access to the service via their set-top boxes, which is crucial in France, where households still consume content mostly [...]

  • Tony Ayres - International Live Action

    Netflix Boards Tony Ayres' Tech Thriller 'Clickbait'

    Top Australian film and TV creator, Tony Ayres, “Harry Potter” producer David Heyman and Christian White have set up “Clickbait,” a new thriller series for Netflix. It probes probing the dangers of social media and the widening gulf between people’s real and virtual selves. The show is to be produced in Melbourne, Australia through NBC [...]

  • MINDHUNTER

    Netflix's Podcast Slate 'Deepens' Space Around Original Content, Programmers Say

    It should come as no surprise that, in its quest to become a full-blown entertainment ecosystem, Netflix has built a roster of podcast programming to complement its scores or original series and films. The programs recruit top talent and hosts to hang out and talk about the streaming giant’s TV and film content. It’s a [...]

  • Netflix-logo-N-icon

    Netflix Is Testing Human-Curated 'Collections'

    Netflix, a company powered by the strategic use of data, relies on artificial intelligence to suggest new content that its streaming customers are likely to be interested in. Now it’s looking to potentially add a human touch: The company has launched a limited-scale test of “Collections,” a new feature that presents groups of movies and [...]

  • wolves in the walls emmy

    Neil Gaiman VR Experience 'Wolves in the Walls' Wins Primetime Emmy

    “Wolves in the Walls,” the virtual reality (VR) experience based on Neil Gaiman’s children’s book by the same name, has been awarded with a Primetime Emmy for outstanding innovation in interactive media. The experience has been produced by San Francisco-based immersive entertainment startup Fable, which puts a big effort on making the viewer a participating [...]

  • The Void San Francisco

    The Void Teams Up With Sony Pictures for New Location-Based VR Experience

    James Murdoch-backed virtual reality (VR) startup The Void has teamed up with Sony Pictures Virtual reality to produce a new location-based VR experience, according to Curtis Hickman, the startup’s chief creative officer. Hickman revealed the partnership in a conversation with Variety this week, during which he also outlined plans to bring more original IP to [...]

  • US President Donald J. Trump speaks

    Apple Stock Down 4.6% After Trump ‘Orders’ Companies to Leave China

    Apple’s share price was down around 4.6% Friday at the close of the market, to $202.64 per share, after President Trump took to Twitter to “order” U.S. companies to leave China. The slide came amid a market-wide sell-off, with the NASDAQ sliding 3%, and the Dow dropping 623 points. Trump’s edict was a response to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content