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Quebec Agency Defends Province's Game Industry Boom

| 29 Nov 2007 14:25
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Investissement Quebec CEO Jacques Daoust has said the region's own talent base and vibrant education community, and not an unfair drain on U.K. and European talent, is providing the bulk of the workforce for the province's booming game development industry.

The area was the subject of recent criticism from both the U.K. Minister for Culture, Media and Sport as well as Denis Dyack of Canadian developer Silicon Knights for the generous tax rebates offered to game companies in Quebec, which can total as much as 40 percent of staff salaries. Minister Margaret Hodge said her ministry was examining the possibility of a WTO challenge to the subsidies, while Dyack referred to them as "insane" and said, "Because all of our universities and colleges are subsidized by the government, what we're doing is training all of these people, educating them, and then they're leaving. We've got to stop that."

But according to Daoust, local efforts are responsible for the area's attractiveness. "[Companies are coming to Montreal] because it is attractive now," he said. "The education system here is great - we are graduating each year 1400 new graduates ready to work. This industry is not creating hamburger flipping jobs, they are key technical jobs."

"It was Yannis Mallat who said, "We came for the money and we stay for the talent" - and he's completely right," Daoust added.

Daoust said his agency is hoping to extend its assistance to the serious games industry next, as well as support game development for the growing gamer demographic. "We want to be a key part of that. It's a tremendous market, as the demographic of games is changing with older men and women getting into games. The entire industry has to grow in line with that and make more games for those people and we want to support that."

Numerous high-profile developers and publishers have opened studios in Quebec recently, including Ubisoft, Eletronic Arts and Eidos. Investissement Quebec figures show a 177 percent growth rate in the industry from 2005 to 2007, and Ubisoft Montreal, the largest single game industry employer in the province, recently announced its intention to boost the studio's staffing from 1600 employees to 3000.

"I think we're doing the right thing," Daoust said. "We are not making any political announcements here, we just want to keep supporting the games industry."

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