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British Columbia government not doing enough for Vancouver games industry, developers say

"It's not an easy decision at a time when the province is trying to balance its budget" Bill Bennett, British Columbia government

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Vancouver, a city long known in Canada and throughout North America as a thriving hub for video game studios, has begun to lose that status in recent years, and some developers believe the government isn't doing enough to maintain it, reports CTV News.

Lance Davis, chief financial officer for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City studio Slant Six Games, told CTV that his company feels that "the [British Columbia] video game industry has come under threat recently, and it is in a bit of peril." According to Davis, the province has lost approximately 1,400 game development jobs since 2008.

Those losses continued into 2012. Activision all but closed Radical Entertainment, developer of the Prototype games, earlier this year and laid off 89 employees. Rockstar closed its Vancouver office in July, moving the 35 employees who had staffed it to the publisher's Toronto studio as part of a "strategic partnership with the Ontario government."

That's the main problem, according to Vancouver-based developers: The government of British Columbia isn't doing enough to keep developers there, while other provinces — particularly Ontario and Quebec — offer better tax breaks to encourage studios to set up shop.

Bill Bennett, British Columbia's minister of community, sport and cultural development, is sympathetic to the industry, but fiscal prudence takes precedence. "I'm not saying that we won't level the playing field," he said, referring to the possibility of introducing more tax breaks. But he added, "It's not an easy decision at a time when the province is trying to balance its budget."

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