In a keynote address at the Ottawa International Game Conference (OIGC), Jayson Hilchie, President & CEO of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) today unveiled new research about the Canadian video game industry. The research shows that Canada’s overall video game industry is still growing at a moderate pace, even as the sector and its business models continue to evolve.

“This industry – with its marriage of high-skill creative, artistic and technical disciplines – is a source of national pride,” said Hilchie. “Many people are still surprised to realize that Canada is the largest producer of video games on a per capita basis, producing critically acclaimed video games on nearly all platforms and enjoyed all over the world.”

Unveiling top-line results from new research conducted by Nordicity for ESAC, Hilchie showed that Canada’s 329 video game studios are a critical component of this country’s new digital economy generating over $2.3 billion in GDP for the Canadian economy in 2012.

“There are 16,500 men and women working full time in Canada’s video game industry – up 5% from where we were in 2011,” reported Hilchie. “But our industry is responsible for generating employment for approximately 27,000 people across the Canadian economy. These are high paying jobs – paying on average just over $72,000 – going to young workers in creative / artistic disciplines, technical fields and business / administrative functions,” said Hilchie.

The average age of workers in the Canadian video game industry is just over 30 years old.

“Video game developers and publishers have a positive outlook on the future. Four out of 10 respondents expect to grow by over 25% in the next 24 months, while 17% expect to grow by 15-24% in the same period,” said Hilchie. “Although there have been studio closures and shifts in the types of games produced here, there is an optimism about the future of the industry in Canada.”

Over 84% of Canadian video game studios are now working on games for mobile devices (phones and tablets), while just over 48% of studios are devoting some of their resources to console games. Studios in Canada are also developing PC games (66%) as well as games for the Web (46%) and for social networks (29%). Although the overall Canadian industry is shifting more of its attention to mobile or casual titles, bigger-budget console games are still receiving the lion’s share of resources. Companies report that the average budget for console games is $8.7 million, produced by an average team of 65 persons in 583 days, as compared to an average budget of $300,000 for mobile games, a team of 7 persons and 156 days of production.

Canada’s video game industry continues to develop some of the world’s biggest blockbusters including franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Batman Arkham, NHL and FIFA.

ESAC partnered with Nordicity to conduct one of the most comprehensive surveys of the Canadian video game industry. Nordicity surveyed companies across the country and interviewed experts in the industry and in government. The full report will be released later this summer.