Well, it’s another week in Vancouver, which can only mean another video game studio closure in the city. Rockstar Games announced today that they will be shutting down their Vancouver studio. Rockstar Vancouver just recently released Max Payne 3, a highly-anticipated and high profile title. Rather than just shut the studio down, Rockstar is actually consolidating their Canadian operations near Toronto, Ontario. All Rockstar Vancouver employees will be offered employment there or at other Rockstar studios. In fact, Rockstar hopes to hire even more people at their new Ontario location. This is definitely a case where a company just wasn’t willing to continue operations in a province that has absolutely no interest in retaining video game businesses or helping the industry grow. Feelings aside, would you rather put your business in a province that offered 17% tax credits or close to 40%? The provincial government of British Columbia, like so many other things they do, has failed miserably in that respect.
A faint glimmer of hope, however, has appeared on the horizon. A former coworker of mine, Matt Toner, has embarked on a grassroots campaign to become the NDP candidate for Vancouver-False Creek in the 2013 provincial election. Matt, like so many of us, have been increasingly frustrated by the inaction of provincial politicians, who spectacularly fail to understand the digital entertainment industry here in British Columbia. Remember that most of the people running this province are older and have absolutely no idea what video game companies do and how much benefit they bring to the local economy.
It’s almost a given that the B.C. Liberal government will be defeated in the May 2013 election, so Matt has picked the right party to align himself with. It will be, however, a most difficult challenge for him in the months ahead. Matt is no politician by trade, so he’ll have to learn a lot in the next few months. This will require money, time, and effort to get this campaign to where it needs to be. The thought of “one of us” being on the inside and having some power in what this province can do for the industry is an exciting proposition though. I fully support Matt in his endeavour, no matter how foolish it may seem to some.
I whole-hardheartedly encourage you to visit Matt’s web site to learn more about his vision and his plan.