The Canadian video game industry had a banner year in 2014, continuing a meteoric growth that demonstrates its critical place in Canada's new digital economy. Those revelations are part of a new economic report released today by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) about the Canadian video game industry.   

New numbers show that there are 472 active video game studios in Canada, 143 more than in 2013. It also shows that 20,400 people are directly employed by the video game industry from coast to coast, up 24% from 2013. The video game industry's contribution to Canada's GDP also jumped to $3 billion/year in 2015, a staggering 31% increase.

"Canada's video game industry plays a positive and vital role in our economy," said Jayson Hilchie, President and CEO of ESAC. "It's a highly skilled, highly paid industry that employs young creative people; it's demonstrating how Canada can create jobs and prosperity, export its creativity around the world and ultimately lead in the new economy of the future," he added.

The growth experienced in 2014 is partially owed to innovation in the video game industry, including the introduction of a new generation of consoles into the market, but also other factors like huge Canadian blockbusters hitting the market, a continued explosion in popularity of mobile games (which accounted for 65% of all completed projects in 2014) and because of a positive business climate for video game developers in a majority of Canadian provinces. 

Companies' outlook for the future continues to be positive, with several companies expecting the growth rate to continue over the next two years. In fact, it's estimated that 1377 jobs will need to be filled in technical and creative roles in the next 12-24 months.

"Finding qualified and experienced workers in programming, game design, data analysis and artistic animation continues to be a challenge as our growth outpaces the domestic supply of talent," said Hilchie. "There is an opportunity for both industry and for government to find long-term solutions for developing digital skills in our workforce and shorter-term solutions to bring-in qualified workers from abroad to impart innovative techniques and skills."

There are now 24 large video game studios in Canada (those with more than 100 employees) and together, those companies account for 89% of all employment in the country. Quebec now makes up just over half of Canada's industry, employing 10,850 full-time employees, or 53% of all employees in Canada, the vast majority of which are in 14 large studios in that province. British Columbia and Ontario are the other two dominant players in Canada accounting for 27% and 12% of total employment respectively. The growth in number of active studios is mostly in "micro" category (less than 4 employees) across the country, demonstrating the positive start-up culture which is central to an intellectual property-based industry.