Ontario begins program to subsidize game development

Ontario is stepping up efforts to attract creative talent with the establishment of the Intellectual Property Development Fund, a pilot program with $10 million to invest in the development of “screen-based” entertainment.

Infamous game developer Denis Dyack claimed last week that “in the future I can see a very strong recruiting campaign that will say ‘come back home to Ontario,’ and I won’t be surprised if other companies say that too,” and he may be proven prescient after an article in yesterday’s Globe and Mail reveals that Ontario province minister of culture Aileen Carroll is investing $10 million of taxpayer money to reimburse companies for the cost of developing a “feature film, TV series, video game, “webisode” or other Internet property.”

“It meets a niche that needed to be addressed,” adds Carroll. “It stems from a recognition that it’s at the beginning [of a project] that screen-based content developers face the biggest challenge.”

Starting next Monday, any company with at least two years of experience may apply to receive a government rebate of up to 30 per cent of their development expenses in a given year, with a maximum rebate of $150,000 per company. Valid expenses include script-writing, focus group testing and consultation on game design documents, and all applications are judged by the Ontario Media Development Corporation to ensure government funds are being used to stimulate Ontario’s creative sector. The province boasts that more than 30 percent of the employed labor force is engaged in “creativity-oriented” jobs, the third largest hub of creative development in North America (after New York and California.)

“The creative sector is doing very well; it’s out-performing other sectors of the Ontario economy,” said Carroll. “Now seems the most important time to keep feeding, enhancing and growing that sector.”

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