Canada is a Gaming Powerhouse

canadian-gamingOne thing that I’ve realized as working on our Canadian Gaming Week is that the Canadian gaming industry is currently in great shape. Sure, Vancouver could use a little bit of help and the once great BioWare has been on a down swing but to parrot a Don Cherry line about Canadian hockey, we are the best.

If you look at last week’s Canadian Videogame Awards, the nominees and winners lists look like most major year-end awards lists. Three of last year’s biggest triple-A games, the best-selling sports game in the world and two of the best reviewed indie games of 2012 were all developed on Canadian soil. Canadian gaming isn’t just a powerhouse but is thriving hotbed for the games industry.

In 2012, the Canadian gaming industry released such critically acclaimed games and game of the year nominees such as Far Cry 3, Mass Effect 3, Papo & Yo and Mark of the Ninja. Two of the five Game of the Year nominees for Spike TV’s so-called Video Game Awards were developed in Canada. That’s equal to the number of American developed games. That doesn’t include that three of the eight sports game nominees (SSX, FIFA 13, NHL 13), two of the four best indie game nominees (Fez, Mark of the Ninja) and two of the four best downloadable game nominees (Fez, Sound Shapes) were Canadian.

Those games listed above weren’t the only great games made in Canada last year. In 2012, Canadian devs also released Max Payne 3, Sleeping Dogs, The Darkness II, Prototype 2 and Shank 2.

Sure, if you go back to 2011, the picture painted isn’t quite as rosy when compared to the massive acclaim of Canadian games in 2012. You had Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Assassin’s Creed Revelations.

If you look at the studios and franchises based in Canada, it’s hard not to see Canada as a key part of the gaming industry.

bioware-gamesBioWare might have fallen on hard times over the last couple of years with the relative failures of Dragon Age II, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3 but is still an elite developer, even if that status is based on nostalgia. You can’t tell me that the likes of Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect don’t make it a heavyweight. I’m willing to bet that Dragon Age III and Mass Effect 4 will be hits for BioWare’s Edmonton and Montreal studios.

Ubisoft Montreal is the home to Ubisoft’s biggest triple-A franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry (which only became a big franchise with FC3 but has to now be considered a top Ubisoft franchise) and the much-anticipated Watch Dogs. That doesn’t include the Prince of Persia and Tom Clancy games that were also produced in Montreal. Now, the Splinter Cell series has been taken over by Ubisoft Toronto.

EA Canada is pretty much just an EA Sports exclusive studio but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t putting out high quality games. The NHL and FIFA series are their domains and both are critically acclaimed series. FIFA is among the bestselling games in the world, too.

There are plenty of other studios that aren’t the massive powerhouses I called out above that put out spectacular games. Eidos Montreal is the current developer of the Deus Ex and Thief series. Vancouver’s United Front Games is a part of PlayStation’s “Play. Create. Share.” initiative with ModNation Racers and LittleBigPlanet Karting as well as developing more serious titles like last year’s well-received Sleeping Dogs. The popular Batman Arkham series of games will now be the property of WB Games Montreal. And the list of great developers and great games that are based in Canada goes on.

Back to Geoff Keighley for a moment. While I’m not his biggest fan, he is the face of video games journalism. He has a weekly show (GameTrailers TV) on a basic cable station (Spike TV) in America. That essentially makes him the most watched and most visible man in gaming journalism. So, a Canadian journalist who got his start on Canadian TV is now now the biggest gaming journalist on TV.

The point I’ve been trying to make with this column and all week is that the Canadian gaming industry is something that should be a source of national pride. Developers big and small, part of multinational conglomerates and independent are putting out spectacular products loved by gamers and critics alike.

So, Canada, take pride in our games and developers. We’re among the best in the world.

This week is Canadian Gaming Week on The Lowdown Blog. For more, check out the Canadian Gaming Week tag.

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