By Mark Johnson
Speaking to SPOnG, Sandra Pupatello, the Canadian government minister responsible for attracting games companies to the province of Ontario, has told SPOnG that the Ontarian government is not threatened by incentives offered by rival territories to attract developers.
Ontario has aggressively pursued games companies and other forms of digital media recently, with Ubisoft having just announced huge new studio in the province's biggest city, Toronto
. Asked whether the Ontarian government sees incentives provided by other territories - such as proposed tax breaks in the UK - as a threat, Minister Pupatello said, "No, I think it's probably, as they say, the highest form of compliment is being copied, so that's probably a good thing. And competition is good for all of us. It makes us be us at the top of our game.
"There are some things that investment, incentives like this, will help. But ultimately it's more than just the incentives, and it's up to us to weigh what it is we can offer. I'm really mindful that if talent is the number one issue, that's about an entire education system, and that's a little tougher to develop, so I'm hoping that we're going to be able to keep that competitive edge for a while."
There was mention in the government's Digital Britain report
of improving graduate skills in game development, while the feasability of a 'Usability Centre for Video Games' aimed at providing, "work related training necessary to enable them to secure their first job in the industry and helping to bridge the current gap". The report also mentioned the possibility of tax relief, though this is also still being investigated.
The Ontarian government promised a CA$263 million investment in Ubisoft Toronto
spread over 10 years.
Minister Pupatello told SPOnG that it the Ontarian government was aggressive in its courting of Ubisoft. "It was kind of like active pursuit, we weren't giving up. It started about two years ago, our engagement with Ubisoft. We just kept going, and wherever they were, we would go. We met in Toronto, Montreal, Paris, Montreal, Toronto, and on it went. So, it was quite interesting how it developed", she explained.
"Of course, a company has to be in a position to need expansion, so that goes without saying, that we had to wait until Ubisoft was ready, and then we could make an offering. And then, when they have options as to where they can go, we need to continue to present the best options to serve their needs. And I think that we finally hit the right note recently, and they agreed to come."