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Manitoba is Canada’s Hidden Gem for Video Game Development

This article has been written as a part of a paid cooperation with New Media Manitoba

Life is good in Canada’s most centrally located province Manitoba. With its remarkably diverse natural landscapes, ranging from arctic tundras to dense forests, and low cost of living, it’s easy to see the appeal of residing here. Plus the local government is also working emphatically to put Manitoba on the map as an ideal location for game companies.  

The province is renowned for its collaborative video game development community, where established companies lend a helping hand to newcomers. This cooperative spirit is epitomized by initiatives like GameLab Biz, which connects aspiring studio owners with industry veterans. Institutions such as Red River College Polytech, with its Game Development program, are also pivotal in cultivating the next generation of game developers.

Extensive Tax Credit

One of the most compelling reasons for game studios to consider Manitoba is the province’s Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit, one of the best in Canada. This refundable corporate tax credit allows studios to reclaim up to 40% of eligible labor, marketing, and distribution expenses. This financial incentive has already attracted major players like Ubisoft, which set up a studio in Winnipeg, further enhancing the region’s reputation as a burgeoning hub for game development.

Inside Ubisoft Winnipeg

Winnipeg is the focal point of Manitoba’s game development industry. The low cost of living and high quality of life make it an attractive location for game developers. The province further boasts a thriving cultural sector, welcoming immigration policies, a growing workforce, and a stable economy. 

Prominent Speakers

Success stories like Complex Games, which was acquired by Frontier Developments, highlight the potential for growth and innovation within Manitoba. However, the path to establishing a successful studio in a relatively smaller market can be challenging, due to fewer examples to follow and limited local support and funding. This is why New Media Manitoba began organizing GameBiz Lab, offering crucial sector-specific business knowledge to new and aspiring studio owners.

GameBiz Lab Masterclass

To further stimulate the local game development scene, New Media Manitoba’s GameBiz Lab Masterclass Series features prominent speakers who share their expertise on the business side of game development. The series has hosted industry veterans like Pierre Moisan, with over 25 years of experience, and indie developers such as Sasha Boersma, Co-Founder and Producer at Sticky Brain Studios. These sessions provide invaluable insights and guidance to budding game developers.

Home-grown talent

Manitoba is not only supporting local talent but also seeking to attract established studios and subsidiaries of larger companies. The province’s game development sector would benefit from the relocation or expansion of studios to Manitoba, leveraging incentives like the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit. Ubisoft’s Winnipeg studio stands as a testament to the potential for expansion alongside the incredible home-grown talent.

GameBiz Lab Masterclass

New Media Manitoba is currently looking for experts to speak at future GameBiz Lab events. They are seeking diverse professionals with experience in budgeting for indies, securing contract work, and other business aspects of video game development. Interested speakers are encouraged to share their expertise with the community through speaker sessions and individual consultations with cohort studios. Those interested in becoming speakers can sign up at the GameBiz Lab Speaker Sign-Up.

Manitoba’s supportive community, combined with financial incentives and educational resources, makes it an ideal destination for game studios looking to thrive in a collaborative and cost-effective environment.

Eric Bartelson
Eric Bartelson
Editor-in-Chief of PreMortem.Games. Veteran game journalist for over 20 years. Started out in 1999 for game magazines (yes the ones made of paper) such as PC Zone Benelux, PlayNation and GameQuest, before co-founding Dutch industry paper Control Magazine.

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