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Nova Scotia game developers ready for take-off

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The video game industry in Nova Scotia is probably not what you think it is. 

Let’s zoom out to a global view. The global video game market was worth more than $150 billion in 2017 and is growing at 10% per year. Canada is the third-largest producer of video games in the world, with more than 21,700 professionals working in more than 596 studios who added $3.7 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2017. The video game market in Canada is growing rapidly, averaging a 24% annual increase since 2015. 

Nova Scotia is home to more than 20 video game studios, employing more than 300 people. With an average salary for a video game professional in Canada of $77,000, that represents approximately $23 million per year in employment income. 

Check out what Ubisoft is saying about doing business in Nova Scotia  – “Nova Scotia: Harbour for Ideas”   

Here’s another thing you may not know about the sector: Nova Scotia’s studios are primarily exporters. That means they bring money into the province. And they invest that money by hiring employees, buying services, and expanding their operations.  

Nova Scotia is poised to win. We have the right mix of talent, infrastructure, global reach, and community to build a strong video game industry that can take on the best in the world. 

Learn more about Nova Scotia’s Digital Media industry

That’s why Nova Scotia game developers are at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2018

GDC is the world's largest event for the professional game industry. It attracts more than 26,000 programmers, artists, producers, game designers, investors, and decision-makers who create, develop, and market interactive games and virtual reality applications. Over five days, they attend more than 500 lectures, panels, tutorials, and discussions, visit more than 500 game companies showcasing their services at the GDC expo, network and connect with other professionals, and get inspired to make great games and shape the future of the industry. 
At GDC, game developers learn about the most important development tools, platforms and services that help games succeed. Attendees include indie developers, multinational game companies, studios, governments, and investors, all looking to play a part in the growth of this vital and exciting industry.  
This year, six Nova Scotia studios are part of the Atlantic Canadian delegation. To connect with current and potential customers, partners, investors, and advisors to grow their business and expand into global markets. 

The studios plan to showcase exciting new technologies and game platforms, launch new games and content, and attract partners, talent, and investors to Nova Scotia’s growing video games sector. 

I was in Vancouver just before the video game industry took off. There was a buzz. You could tell something was happening, that the pieces were in place for growth. We’re hearing the same buzz in Nova Scotia. There are real signs of change. Local start-ups are having successes and studios are moving into the province. Something is happening here.  
Shawn Woods – Cofounder & Creative Director, Alpha Dog Games 

They are also seeking new exporting opportunities, particularly in the Asian market. Asia represents half the global market for video games, with over $75 billion in sales in 2017. Of this, $41.6 billion was China, the largest video game market in the world. 

Meet the companies: 

Vesuvius Media 

Konstantinos Manos, CEO and Lead Game Designer 

What they do:  
Vesuvius Media is a cross-media IP developer and creator of mobile games, board games, browser games, and graphic novels. Their franchises include Dwar7s, Covil: The Dark Overlords, Nocturion, and Centauri Saga. 

Their Game Plan for 2018: 
Vesuvius launched the board game Centauri Saga: Abandoned in December 2017. In 2018 they plan to launch two new games: Atlantean War (mobile) and Nocturion (board game). They are also partnering with Alpha Dog Games to launch Monstrocity, a board game based on Alpha Dog’s popular Monstrocity mobile game. 

Alpha Dog Games 

Shawn Woods, Founder/Creative Director 
Jeff Cameron, Founder, Technical Director 

What they do: 
Alpha Dog creates free-to-play mobile games such as Wraithbourne and MonstroCity: Rampage. They produce fun games with high production value and revenue potential with an eye to business intelligence and analytics.  

Their Game Plan for 2018: 
In 2018 Alpha Dog will be launching a new game project alongside a new partnership. They are also actively seeking targets for a second project and are partnering with Vesuvius Media to produce a board game based on MonstroCity: Rampage. They are also exploring export options into the Asian market. 


Mike Johnston, CEO 

What they do: 
REDspace is a digital studio that creates ways to deliver content and interactive experiences. They develop multi-platform games for media and entertainment companies such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop, and PBS Kids.  

Their Game Plan for 2018: 
REDspace is creating new voice and personal agent technologies that will allow a new degree of interaction to game environments. In 2018 the studio will develop a prototype game platform to demonstrate these innovations to the marketplace. 

Arcturus Studios 

Andy Stack, Chief Operations Officer 
Ewan Johnson, Chief Creative Officer
Devin Horsman, Chief Technical Officer 

What they do: 
Arcturus creates interactive narrative content and technology for the XR space. They recently released Way of Kings: Escape the Shattered Plains! an adaptation of Brandon Sanderson's popular book series;  available now on SteamVR

Their Game Plan for 2018: 
Arcturus is creating innovative technology for holographic video content that enables adaptive streaming to mobile devices and live performance retargeting during playback. Through 2018 they are developing partnerships with studios and creating content built on this technology. 

Ubique Networks  

CEO, Founder - Vijai Karthigesu 
CTO, Founder - Sorin Stoian 
Managing Director, Founder - Senthil Ratnasabapathy
EVP, Global Sales - John Smith
Head of Growth - Aseef Khan 

What they do: 
Ubique Networks delivers a lagless gaming experience for online gamers. In 2017 they released Swarmio, the world’s only vertically integrated eSports platform with an integrated lag optimization technology. Swarmio allows video game tournament organizers with the tools to automatically and seamlessly organize and manage tournaments. 

Their Game Plan for 2018: 
Partnerships and expansion are a top priority for Ubique Networks as they promote Swarmio to markets worldwide. ESports is a rapidly growing sector and many markets still lack the infrastructure to support tournaments. Swarmio is unique because it can easily establish this infrastructure. 

Next steps? 
The global game industry continues to grow at a spectacular rate, especially in key export markets in Asia. This growth is reflected here in Nova Scotia, both in the successes of our local developers and in the studios that have chosen to locate here.  

Get the inside scoop on the latest buzz and news from GDC, as it happens. Like and Follow us on Twitter @NSBI, on FaceBook @NovascotiaBusinessInc, Instagram @novascotiabusiness and LinkedIn @Nova Scotia Business Inc for live updates from the conference.