Couple enjoying gaming together at home Couple enjoying gaming together at home

Evolution of the Gaming Industry in Canada

Canada has a fast-growing gaming industry that is recognized and appreciated globally. According to estimates by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, this industry is responsible for $4.5 billion of the Canadian GDP.

It generated about $3.4 billion in revenue in 2021, up 20 percent from 2019. Video gaming is so major in Canada that it is giving the film and TV production industry a run for its money. Here is a look at how the market has evolved over the years.

History of Canadian Video Gaming

The Canadian video game industry got its start in the 1980s. Les Têtards, the first-ever documented commercial game from the country, was published in 1982 by Logidisque. It was quickly followed by BC’s Quest for Tires and Evolution, released in 1983, which was also the first commercially successful Canadian video game. Peter Liepa and Chris Gray created the popular Boulder Dash a year later.

The attractive government incentives offered in Canada played a major role in growing the gaming industry. In the early to late 90s, it drew major developers who moved to cities like Montreal and Ontario to open branches. One such company is Ubisoft, which launched Ubisoft Montreal in 1997.

Today, the studio is one of the largest single-location game developers by employee count. It is also widely credited with drawing other developers to Canada, including Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and EA Canada. Moreover, Ubisoft Montreal is the driving force behind the world-famous Assassin’s Creed series, which features eleven main titles and about twelve spin-offs.

EA Canada, also based in Montreal, is responsible for the first five installments of the Need for Speed Series. The next seven titles can be credited to Vancouver-based Black Box Studios. The overall impact of these studios is that Canada’s gaming industry has bloomed since the 80s into a gaming hub.

The Canadian Gambling Industry

Canada’s gaming history is incomplete without a look at its gambling sector. Gambling has a long and complicated history in Canada, having been banned completely in 1892. The bandsaw many unsavory characters established illegal betting houses, which the country tried to abolish by making charity bingo and raffles legal in the early 1900s. This was followed by the legalization of horse race betting in 1910.

Most notably, however, the Canadian government passed legislation in 1970 to allow provinces to regulate gambling within their borders. Quebec, quick to move, established a Crown corporation to oversee horse races and lotteries, paving the way for the Canadian gambling industry today. Other provinces soon followed, leaving only Saskatchewan behind.

Over the next several decades, the Canadian gambling industry has evolved tremendously thanks to more legislation and technological advancements. 2004 saw British Columbia legalize online sports betting and lotteries and added poker, bingo, and other casino games to its roster in 2009 and 2010. This ushered in the era of online gambling. Soon, providers like popped up across Canada, allowing Canadians to play popular slots and card games online. 

Gaming in Canada Today

The gaming industry in Canada continues to grow today. Advances like mobile gaming, 3D graphics, and the internet have exposed the gaming culture to an even wider audience. In 2015, approximately 54 percent of the Canadian population – 19 million people – identified as gamers.

Montreal, meanwhile, is one of the largest game-developing hubs in the world, ranking fifth behind Tokyo, Austin, San Francisco, and London. These achievements have made Canada an interesting market for even researchers, who have been showing an increased interest in the Canadian gaming industry and its impact on the economy. It is safe to say that the sector has come a long way and will go a long way still.

Evolution of the gaming industry in Canada

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