While playing video games divides opinions, the fact is that it is a large, growing industry that is only predicted to grow further both in Canada and worldwide. What is the video game industry worth in Canada, how much has it grown, and how many people does it employ?

We answer all those questions and much more in this article about Canada’s video game industry statistics. You will also find information about the gamer demographics in Canada, types of video game companies, and a brief look at the global picture for comparison.

Video Game Industry Statistics for Canadians

  • In 2021, the video game industry’s contribution to Canada’s GDP was $5.5 billion.
  • 75% of video game companies in Canada are owned by Canadians.
  • 61% of Canadians play video games.
  • Puzzle and word games are most popular among adults, while action and adventure are the most popular types of games among kids and teenagers.
  • The sales of digital games have increased year on year, while the sales of physical video games have stagnated.
  • 32,300 people were working full-time in the video game industry in Canada in 2021.
  • 36% of the industry’s jobs are with just 1% of the companies.
  • Around 94% of Canadian companies in the video game industry have less than one hundred employees.
  • The number of video game companies in Canada increased by 35% between 2019 and 2021.
  • In 2021, Ontario and Quebec had 80% of Canada’s video game companies.
  • Almost three-quarters of all people working in the industry are men.
  • The average salary in the video game industry is just under $57,000.

The Definition of the Video Game Industry

The video game industry covers a wide range of professions and activities, such as developing, creating, publishing, and distributing video games. It also includes the production and sales of products such as PC, consoles, online, and mobile games, and the hardware and accessories, for example, controllers, consoles, and virtual reality headsets. The revenues in the video game industry are generated through consumer spending on games, in-game purchases, and subscription fees.

Video Game Industry in Canada

In 2021, the video game industry contributed $5.5 billion to the Canadian GDP. This represented a 23% increase since 2019. Over $3.2 billion was contributed directly by the industry, while over $1.2 billion came from indirect sources. In 2023, the revenue is expected to reach $7.707 billion and with the projected growth rate of 8.49%, the market volume is expected to be over $10 billion in 2027.

Most of the Video Companies Operating in Canada Are Canadian

In 2021, 75% of all video game companies in Canada were Canadian-owned. This was a decrease from 2019 when 84% of the companies were owned by Canadians. This change is due to acquisitions as well as new video companies established by foreign companies in Canada since 2019.

Video Game Penetration in Canada

According to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, 23 million Canadians play video games, representing 61% of the population. Younger Canadians are more likely to play video games with 89% of children and teens (6-17-year-olds) playing video games compared to 61% of the 18-64-year-olds. The survey did not include Canadians aged 65 and over.

The penetration rate is highest among boys aged 13 to 17, with 90% of them considering themselves gamers. The penetration rate, at 29%, is the lowest among women aged 55 to 64. Saskatchewan has the highest penetration rate at 68% and Quebec has the lowest at 57%.

Types of Video Games Played in Canada

While the types of the most popular games vary across gender and age groups, puzzle and word games are the most popular type of game among adult Canadians, and action and adventure games among kids and teens.

37% of Canadian adults say they play puzzle and word games while 33% of kids and teens play action and adventure games. Fighting games are the least popular with only 11% of adults and 12% of kids and teens saying they play these types of games.

How Canadians Play

Canadians are most likely to play online with 70% of those who play video games saying they access the games online. However, 58% of adults are also playing offline. For several years now, Canadians have been more likely to download digital copies rather than buy physical copies of the games they play.

This trend is clearly demonstrated by the market revenue published by Statista. It shows that the revenue from digital games has increased year-on-year since 2017. Overall, the increases have been steady, other than a large jump from $2.244 billion to $3.032 billion between 2019 and 2020. This was most likely because of COVID-19. Meanwhile, the sales of physical games have stagnated at around $0.93 billion.

Consumer Spending on Video Games in Canada

In the year between July 2017 and June 2018, Canadians spent $8.1 billion on digital products. With $1.354 billion spent on online gaming subscriptions, game downloads, and in-game purchases the video game sector accounted for 16.7% of total spending on digital products. The biggest spending category was mobile apps, computer software, and other online subscriptions.

Canadians aged 25-34 were the biggest spenders. This age group spent $471 million of the $1.354 billion total, accounting for approximately 35% of the total spending. The next biggest group with 30% was the 18-24-year-olds and the smallest groups were the over 65s with 2% and 55-64-year-olds with 3%.

Video Game Industry Employment in Canada

In 2021, the number of people employed directly by the video game industry reached 32,300 full-time employees. This was a 17% increase from 2019. 57% of Canadian video companies said they had more employees in 2021 than in 2017. During the same period, 30% of the companies retained the same number of employees, while only 13% had fewer employees than in 2017.

Most of the jobs were within the largest companies. Even though they only represent 6% of all companies in Canada, they provide work for 76% of all full-time employees in the industry. And if we break those statistics down further, it shows that very large companies, those with over 400 members of staff, represent only 1% of all companies, yet employ 36% of all full-time staff.

Most Canadian Video Game Companies Are Categorised as Micro companies

Most companies in the Canadian video game industry are either micro companies, meaning they employ less than four people, or standard-size companies with more than five but less than a hundred employees. In 2021, these companies formed approximately 94% of all video game companies in Canada. However, the remaining 6% includes large companies that generate a notable share of the economic and employment activity in the Canadian video game industry.

In 2019, there were 937 companies in total. 377 were micro companies and their number increased by 35% in two years to 509 in 2021. The number of standard-size companies was up by 34%, having increased from 278 to 370 between 2019 and 2021. The number of large companies, with over one hundred employees, also increased from 37 to 58, representing a 29% increase.

Video Game Businesses Across Canada

Most of the businesses in the video gaming industry are located in Quebec and Ontario. Together these provinces had 80% of the country’s video gaming companies in 2021, with 298 in Ontario and 291 in Quebec. British Columbia is next with 161 companies followed by Alberta with 88. The Prairies, excluding Alberta, had 40 companies in total, as did the Atlantic Provinces.

In British Columbia, the number of large companies grew by 111%, while the Atlantic provinces and Manitoba and Saskatchewan saw huge increases in the numbers of micro companies. In the Atlantic provinces, the number of micro companies grew by 139% and across Manitoba and Saskatchewan by 108%.

In most areas across Canada, micro businesses are more common than standard-size companies. The only exception is British Columbia where there are 62 micro businesses compared to 83 standard-size businesses. Quebec has the most large-size companies with 22, followed by British Columbia with nineteen and Ontario with ten.

Most Video Game Industry Employees Work Full-Time

In 2021, approximately 81% of the people working in the video game industry in Canada were full-time employees, while about 18% were freelancers and just 0.4% worked part-time. The number of full-time employees fell by 2% since 2019 and the proportion of people working in the industry as freelancers or on fixed-term contracts increased by 2% between 2017 and 2021.

The Majority of People Working in the Video Game Industry Are Men

Most of the people working in the Canadian video game industry are men with women representing only 23% of the workforce in 2021. However, this is 4% higher than in 2019 when only 19% of the employees were women.

Ontario has the highest percentage of women working in the industry at 26%, while British Columbia has the lowest at 20%. The Prairies have the highest percentage of women working directly on games. 81% of all women employed by video game companies in the Prairies work directly on games.

Women who work in the smallest companies are more likely to be directly involved with the games at 82%. In large companies, women are more likely to perform other roles with only 37% working directly on games.

The Average Salaries in the Industry

According to the recruitment website Glassdoor, the average salary in the video game industry in Canada is $56,875 based on 713 salaries. However, there are big differences depending on position, location, and the size of the company. Based on data published by Statista, people working for large companies can earn $73,800 on average compared to $70,800 for standard-size companies and $51,100 for micro companies.

The Global Picture

Globally, the video game industry was worth approximately 178.73 billion USD in 2021 following a 14.4% increase from 2020. This is a lot higher than the forecast made in 2016, which expected the video game industry to reach just over 90 billion USD in 2021. There is a 76.8% difference between the projection and the real figure.

The projections were reset following the pandemic and the industry was now expected to reach 200 billion USD in 2022. We will know whether that was achieved, or possibly exceeded, once data for 2022 is released.

Asia has the largest volume of gamers, with the region accounting for about 1.48 billion gamers. That represents 45% of the total number of gamers worldwide which is 3.2 billion. Gamers in Europe represent 22%, which is 715 million in total. Latin America has 14.5% of the total gamers and North America has 9.8%.

Conclusion

The video game industry is one of the fastest-growing industries. In Canada, the number of video game companies increased by 35% between 2019 and 2021. Most of the video game companies in Canada are micro companies employing less than four people. 36% of the whole video game industry workforce is employed by just 1% of the largest companies.

The video game penetration rate in Canada is 61% and men in most age groups are more likely to play video games than women. Globally, there are 3.2 billion gamers, and just under 10% of these gamers are in Canada and the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions

Canada is the third biggest producer of video games, only the United States and Japan produce more games than Canada.

There are over 23 million gamers in Canada.

Canada has over 900 companies that develop video games in a wide range of genres and platforms.

Sources