Alberta proposes tax credit to bolster game development and compete with other provinces

Mass Effect 3 combat

The province of Alberta has announced a proposed Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit, which would offer  companies refunds of 25 percent of wages, salaries and bonuses paid to employees working to directly create “interactive digital media” products like video games.

The Growth and Diversification Act would also offer digital media companies an extra five percent refund for refunds related under-represented demographics, including women, Indigenous people and people with disabilities.

“We want everyone from the smallest studios to the biggest names in the industry to call Alberta home,” said Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous in a press conference.

According to Bilous, Alberta wants to better compete with provinces like Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, all of which have received similar digital media tax credits from governments to foster game development.

Specifically, Quebec offers its employees a 37.5 percent exemption, Ontario offers a 35 percent tax exemption and British Columbia offers a 17.5 percent exemption.

With these benefits, the provinces have gone on to create many popular video games.

Montreal is the country’s biggest hub for game development in, with French publishing giant Ubisoft having its central studio in the city. Over the years, Ubisoft Montreal has gone on to develop many popular and successful games, such as the Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dog franchises and Far Cry 3, 4, Primal and the upcoming 5. 

Electronics Arts also has its EA Motive studio which worked on the campaign for last year’s Star Wars Battlefront II.  The next Tomb Raider game is coming from Eidos Montreal as well.

Games that have come out of Ontario, meanwhile, include Cuphead from Oakville-based Studio MDHRGuacamelee and Severed from Toronto’s DrinkBox Studios and Splinter Cell: Blacklist from Ubisoft Toronto.

British Columbia, on the other hand, is home to EA Canada in Vancouver, which produces the best-selling FIFA and NHL sports games, and Capcom Vancouver, which has developed multiple Dead Rising games.

Alberta is no slouch in game development either. More than 50 interactive digital media studios exist in Alberta, according to the province, with more than 500 full-time employees earning an average of $70,000 a year.

EA’s Bioware studio is located in Edmonton, which has created role-playing game hits like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the Mass Effect and Dragon Age trilogies. Altogether, the games industry contributes $80 million to Alberta’s annual GDP.

Speaking at the Alberta announcement event, Bioware general manager Casey Hudson praised the proposal for having the potential to greatly improve the province’s economic and job-creation potential in the gaming industry.

“This incentive actually removes a competitive disadvantage that Alberta companies historically had when compared to ones operating in many other provinces in Canada,” Hudson told Metro News.

“This incentive actually removes a competitive disadvantage that Alberta companies historically had when compared to ones operating in many other provinces in Canada.”

According to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, the video game industry contributes $3.7 billion to the country’s GDP every year.

This isn’t the only tech-related investment news to recently come out of Alberta; the federal government announced on March 15th a $22.5 million investment into high-speed internet for 39 communities.

Image credit: Electronic Arts via Microsoft

Source: Government of Alberta Via: Metro News