Silicon Knights, Canadian developer of Too Human, was given a $4 million federal grant to help make a AAA game.
While we keep hearing about governments giving tax credits to game development companies, the Canadian government has taken a different tack by offering cash to help create game design jobs and foster a vibrant game community north of the border. Silicon Knights is located in St. Catharine's, Ontario, which is just across the border from Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls. Silicon Knights released Too Human on the Xbox 360 in 2008, as well as Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes for the Nintendo Gamecube. The company currently employs 100 people, but, with this grant, they plan to add over 65 more jobs. Company president Denis Dyack said that he couldn't divulge what game Silicon Knights is currently working on, and that the grant will do much to secure the area as a high-tech hub.
"This is going to benefit Silicon Knights in ways that are profound and long-lasting," Dyack said. "We are blown away and we're happy with the support we're getting. It is something that couldn't have come at a better time." He went on:
"In our industry, you have to be very careful never to announce anything until the right time. We can only say it's a next generation title and a high production value game," Dyack said. "That's all we can say."
The local federal representative for the area, called an MP or Member of Parliament in Canada, Rick Dykstra acknowledged that it might seem strange for taxpayer money to benefit a private company, but that it is legal if there are no competing local companies. Silicon Knights is the only AAA game developer in the region of Niagara, and the entire province of Ontario for that matter.
"Their growth and their success is very important to our community," Dykstra said. "Not only in terms of job creation but also in terms of attracting and retaining the types of highly skilled workers Niagara needs to prosper. This isn't going to have a negative impact on any other companies in Ontario. What it's going to do is build this company up to the point where it's going to create 65 jobs and longer-term jobs down the road."
The grant is part of several federal investments in the high-tech field in the area, with funding going to Brock University and Niagara College as well as a recent $3 million grant to nGen, the Niagara Interactive Media Generator.
As Walter Sendzik from the St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce put it, "We are going to be known as the gaming capital of Canada."
Source: Welland Tribune