Creative tech has flourished in Canada from its roots in BC, and the sector continues to punch above its weight, showing promise even amid an uncertain economic reality. An already booming industry, video gaming saw an unprecedented surge in consumption with the onset of COVID-19. Similarly, lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have led to a growing demand for animated content, and changes to live-action film are opening new doors for visual effects. Recently, ICTC’s Senior Director of Research & Policy, Alexandra Cutean sat down with Brenda Bailey, Executive Director of DigiBC to learn about this thriving sector.
What would you say are the biggest challenges and successes that the creative tech sector in BC has experienced during COVID?
In terms of challenges, it’s really about the impact on the small and medium-sized enterprises: they are struggling a bit, and again, it’s tied to the business model. The business model is capable people who can make product looking for a product to build. A lot of people create their video game studios because they want to build their own IP, but it’s very difficult to get funding. Particularly in BC, the most common way is to establish a work-for-hire studio, then try to put aside some of the earnings from each project, so you can develop your own IP. The business model is problematic. We’re dependent on foreign entities for these contracts, and connections with those entities are usually forged by in-person business development opportunities at trade fairs, events, and conferences. That’s not possible right now. For established studios that already have those relationships, they’re probably okay, but for smaller ones trying to enter the market, it’s going to be tough. I can tell you that so much of my career, when I was making video games, was talking to people at trade show events, getting to know them, and building relationships. You can’t do that online, and we have to figure out how to solve that. It’s a big worry because these small studios don’t have a ton of runway. There was some research done at the beginning of April, which found that the average runway for a small studio was about four months. We’re getting close to that now, and it worries me. It’ll be a real loss for the ecosystem if those studios can’t survive this period. DigiBC is working on helping studios in that situation.Read more...