A report from NPD Group published earlier in June indicated a continued rise for Canada’s video game industry. From September 2011 to February 2012, game acquisition grew by 46%, with a 4% increase in revenue in the half-year period. Free and downloadable games are dominating growth, increasing 79% in the same period, while the purchase of new physical games actually saw a 4% decline.
The numbers point to the trends – gamers are more frequently acquiring soft content, like the first installment of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead five-part episodic series which topped the PlayStation Network and PS3 full game top sellers list in May. The biggest boost, however, came from free games and downloaded demos. Purchased add-on content for download also jumped 143%.
While revenue growth at 4% isn’t exactly skyrocketing, the market is showing unequivocal growth and potential. Social gaming is amplifying, and seeing more serious attention at venues the recent 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3. This year’s E3 also buzzed about a potential expo “win” from a game developer (Ubisoft) against the big console contenders like Nintendo or Sony. The “freemium” model for social games and MMOs is gaining popularity as an option to lure subscribers and combat piracy. The freemium model provides the service free of charge, with advanced features and functionality available for a premium. According to Michael Schmalz of Canada’s Digital Extremes, traditional methods of distribution are being pushed out of the picture due to high packaging and distribution costs.
So as a company, where will your game development efforts fit in? Hey, with $77 million in games acquired in Canada over the past six months, there’s ample space. And to stay competitive, the government offers multiple incentives in for the gaming industry. Check out some funding and tax credit opportunities available for game development companies in Canada.