Vancouver, Canada has suffered tremendous blows to its gaming industry cred with the recent closures...see more
Vancouver, Canada has suffered tremendous blows to its gaming industry cred with the recent closures of bothRadical Entertainment and the local arm of Rockstar Entertainment. Faced with the reality that local jobs are being lost as the industry packs its bags for greener pastures elsewhere in Canada, the office of Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson confirms it will be bringing a motion next week to rally support for the city's local digital media jobs and investment.
Acknowledging the "significant new strategies" being launched by other Canadian provinces to win investment from global digital media giants, Robertson's motion will urge the British Columbian government to redouble its commitment to the digital media entertainment sector by creating more robust and competitive incentives of their own.
The motion compares BC's current 17.5% tax credit for companies in digital media sector (including video game companies) to the far more attractive 37.5% tax credit offered by the province of Ontario, not to mention their additional stacked incentives which are limited here. Say, guess where Rockstar is opening their new studio after closing the one over here? You guessed it, Ontario.
Furthermore, the motion specifically highlights how Vancouver has fallen from first to third place for gaming companies in Canada over the past three years alone, and that losing the crown to other provinces threatens the sustainability of Vancouver's talent pool (not to mention the local scene for the industry itself) over the long term.
As little can be done without provincial level support, Mayor Robertson intends to get in contact with relevant departments in BC's government to discuss how to better close the gap in incentive programs, and promote a "national interactive digital media strategy" which would see Canada as a whole increase its global competitiveness.
Here’s the Mayor’s full motion — please take a moment to share it with your networks:
Motion to support Vancouver’s digital media sector
Moved by Mayor Gregor Robertson
WHEREAS the interactive digital media and visual effects sectors are a major part of Vancouver’s economy, employing more than 25,000 employees in 1300 companies;
WHEREAS there are a number of internationally recognized post-secondary institutions in Vancouver that produce highly skilled graduates for these sectors, which supports local hiring and a robust regional workforce that makes up a significant component of Vancouver’s global advantage;
WHEREAS the Province of British Columbia has established an effective tax credit policy that helps to attract companies in some digital media sectors, and has worked with the Government of Canada to lead changes in immigration policy that has contributed to the establishment of Vancouver as one of the top three global clusters in the world, behind only London and Los Angeles;
WHEREAS Vancouver has an Economic Action Strategy that has made job creation and investment attraction an explicit priority in sectors like interactive digital media and visual effects, and has successfully supported the creation of over 1,000 jobs in the last three years alone in this industry;
WHEREAS Vancouver is gaining strength and growing in some segments of the interactive digital media sectors, like visual effects and animation, but is seeing a rapid decline in other segments like console gaming;
WHEREAS under the Ontario Interactive Media Tax Credit, video game developers are eligible to receive up to a 37.5 per cent tax credit with additional stacked incentives, compared to the 17.5 per cent offered by BC’s Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit, which limits stackable incentives;
WHEREAS these strategies and incentive policies in other jurisdictions, such as Ontario and Quebec, have influenced the decisions of gaming companies to leave Vancouver, dropping the region’s ranking from Number 1 to Number 3 over the past 3 years;
WHEREAS the departure of these companies and the talent associated with them has implications on the broader talent pool for Interactive Digital Media and screen-based sectors that could eventually threaten the stability of the entire cluster;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT
The Mayor write to the Premier and the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, encouraging them to explore options to close the gap with the incentive programs in other Canadian provinces in order to protect these important BC sectors which are becoming vulnerable to inter-provincial poaching;
The Mayor write to the Federal Minister of Industry to promote the idea of a national interactive digital media strategy that would strengthen the entire country’s cluster in these sectors, as opposed to the current approach which only serves to weaken our global competitiveness;
The Mayor, as Chair of the Vancouver Economic Commission, ask the VEC to proactively pursue solutions that can resolve the challenges facing the digital media sector by working with Vancouver’s industry leaders, and report back to Council.
Vancity Buzz: http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2012/07/gregor-robertson-throws-his-support-behind-vancouvers-digital-media-sector/
Mayor Gregor Robertson: http://www.mayorofvancouver.ca/digitalmedia
Thanks to everyone that came out to the DigiBC Special Event: Partner Opportunities with Papaya Mobile on June 6, 2012. We would like to thank our sponsors for this event: DFAIT and the BC Ministry for Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. A special thank you to BC Ministry for Jobs,...see more
Thanks to everyone that came out to the DigiBC Special Event: Partner Opportunities with Papaya Mobile on June 6, 2012. We would like to thank our sponsors for this event: DFAIT and the BC Ministry for Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. A special thank you to BC Ministry for Jobs, Tourism and Innovation for the wonderful venue (UBC Robson Square) and Peake of Catering for providing breakfast. There were about 40 people in attendance at this event and Papaya presented 4 informative and interesting presentations. With a focus on China’s fastest-growing android market, Paul Chen featured 3 main topics: App Discovery, Tips to Climb Google Play Rankings and The Opportunities and Barriers of the China Android Market. The PapayaMobile team gave valuable tips for getting an app not only discovered in the Chinese market, but also provided insight into how PapayaMobile can help North American developers to break into this rapidly-growing industry. PapayaMobile is the leading social gaming networking for mobiles, with 60+ million users and 300+ games. Papaya provides a platform enabling developers to socialize their games, engaging millions of users across North America, Europe and Asia focusing on the Android market.
If you would like to connect with PapayaMobile or learn about similar upcoming DigiBC events, please contact Carly Graham (email@example.com) and we will be happy to help you!
Yesterday Vancouver startup Playerizesee more
Yesterday Vancouver startup Playerize tweeted an intriguing message: "Playerize is to startups as Jack Bauer is to mortals. Write that down".
Turns out where there is smoke, there is fire.
Today Playerize announced they have entered into an agreement to acquire SuperRewards, the Vancouver-born pioneer of virtual currency for social and mobile games. According to their blog they will be acquiring SuperRewards from its original founder Jason Bailey.
Founded in 2007 by Jason Bailey and Eugene Kaidalov, SuperRewards was bootstrapped from zero to a $100 million run rate to exit, all in 18 months. The company was acquired in 2009 by Adknowledge for a rumored $50 million.
Bailey recently reaquired SuperRewards from Adknowledge and is selling it to Playerize.
Playerize was co-founded by Lyal Avery and Jeff Magnusson in 2011 and was the shining star of FounderFuel's inuagural accelerator cohort in Montreal.
They returned to Vancouver with a $1.1 million series A round. So it's safe to say that the price tag for the 2012 version SuperRewards was a fraction of the price Adknowledge paid just three years ago.
"The platform has undergone a lot of growth and improvement and there is a tremendous opportunity in the mobile and social game monetization space and we are extremely proud and excited,” said Lyal Avery, co-founder of Playerize.
The SuperRewards team and products will operate from offices in both Vancouver and San Francisco. Jason Bailey will be joining Playerize's board as Chairman.
"We just hit our tipping point," adds Lyal. "This is a huge day for us."
Hopefully you’ve had an opportunity by now to read through our previous interview with local entrepreneur Brian Vidovic, the man behind Vancouver’s Video Game themed Restaurant + Bar. If not, I would highly recommend that you do, so you’ll understand the full weight of how awesome the concept is, and how far Brian and his team have come in the development of his dream.
Unfortunately though, there is a darker side to this tale. I didn’t want it to bring down the vibe of the original interview, or have this important message lost in the warmth of the ‘journey so far’ tale. This is part two of our interview segment with Brian, which discusses his fight with the Vancouver Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) who hopes to bully his unique take on Vancouver, its community, and entertainment venues.
Along the way to the opening of EXP Brian has, as anyone would imagine, had some troubles with the creation of the venue, and there has been a few road blocks. We discussed a couple of the problems the bar has had in the past, and where things are now:
THE FINANCIAL DILEMMA
Casey White: “We’ve been following the journy to build EXP for some time now, and you and I have been constantly talking about the bar’s progress, so I know a little about the surprise costs that have been dropped in your lap along the way. Do you mind elaborating about the roadblocks you’ve encountered and how you’re getting around them?”
Brian Vidovic: “The cost of the build threw us off because our initial estimates were way off - our previous contracting company gave us the worst possible advice and ended up losing us a chunk of change in the process. Luckily, our landlord caught it early enough and took the reins to put us back on track to open. So, because of these extra costs in plumbing and electrical, we started an IndieGoGo (the Canadian-friendly 'Kickstarter') to make back some of those costs so we didn't destroy our credit in opening. You can find it here: http://www.IndieGoGo.com/expbar”
Casey: “I know the most recent issues are a result of a battle back and forth with the Vancouver Liquor Board. Not unlike our friends over at the RIO (A local heritage movie theater that wanted to server liquor), they’ve been giving you some problems because of the concept of the bar. Apparently anything that’s not a traditional bar/night club is something that they can’t seem to get their minds around. Can you explain a little where the problems are occurring, and what has been done so far to enlighten the LCLB re: gamers do not euqal children?”
Brian: “We were blocked on liquor licensing because of a clause in the entertainment section of a 'food primary' license. This is the core of the problem. Board games are allowed 'so long as they don't detract from the service of food.' So, there isn't anything about video games, but essentially 'stuff that distracts you from eating.' So our question was 'How is that different from a hockey game?' And they said it is because it is 'interactive' and it's 'different.' Based on their own policy outline, we couldn't disagree more if you include a hockey game. They never asked how we would keep the focus to service of food, just flat out said 'no.'
Their only suggestion was to apply for a 'liquor primary' - this means waiting 18 months and paying the city an additional $15,000 for the equivalent status of becoming a night club. We don't want to be a night club, so we thought we would work towards the restaurant license. In BC, you only have food and liquor primary: family restaurant with very little liquor being served, or a nightclub. That's it. And that needs to change, too.
So, we complied to get our license moving along and told them we wouldn't provide any gaming consoles in the space. Our idea was to circumvent this outrageous situation: we would partner with a 3rd party to bring in and then remove consoles for our patrons and of course encourage them to bring in their own consoles for use with us setting up all the cabling and providing controller. Crisis averted! Or so we thought...”
Casey: “Right, and here’s where the story gets really unfortunate. You mentioned to me previously about how the LCLB placed a stipulation on your liquor license that you’ve never seen or heard about before, and in talks with other local business owners it looks like you’re the only one in Vancouver with this restriction. Can you expand a little on what’s happened of recent regarding your liquor license?”
Brian: “So because we asked about video games, we are being punished, effectively. They added a stipulation that 'prohibits the USE of GAMING CONSOLES in the red-lined area of the space.' That red-line is the entire space. They have banned gaming in our video game restaurant.
The problem is that no other food primary has this stipulation on their license. I can walk into anywhere in BC with my console, or hold any gaming event ANYWHERE except in my own space. So, with public safety in mind, this doesn't really make any sense, does it? We are being bullied into submission for trying something different without any research or thought put into the suggestion of gaming. We even said we wouldn't mind being a 'pilot program' to test the idea for 6 months, and they didn't even acknowledge that suggestion.”
Casey: “I know that government agencies love to have fun with the definitions of objects, especially within a license agreement like this. Has there been any talk regarding what the exact definition of a ‘gaming console’ is with the LCLB? I mean, I can play video games on my iPhone, does that mean it’s not allowed in EXP?”
Brian: “We don't know. We assume it means 'anything that plays games'. They didn't single out 'X360, PS3, or Wii' specifically. So, is a PC a 'gaming console'? What about if someone brings in a laptop? What about their phone? If someone plays Angry Birds in my space, am I responsible for it? Can I get shut down for it? I have no idea what the boundaries are. It is all up to the liquor inspector that walks in, and since they aren't educated on the policies (since they can be made up on the spot, it seems) that could mean ANYTHING and that could cost us our business for one person's bad day.”
Casey: “Obviously this isn’t something that the Brian Vidovic I know is going to take laying down, nor will the community that has been clamoring for this venue for the last few years, so moving forwards how are you planning to combat this decision?”
Brian: “I don't like being bullied; no one does. We are actively disputing their decision and working with local MLAs and starting a petition. We are working with Rising Tide Consulting (the nice folks who helped the Rio Theatre with their ground-breaking win against the liquor board) to find a solution.”
THE CALL TO ACTION
Casey: “Sounds good. I assume you and your war generals have yourself a plan. How is EXP proceeding?”
Brian: “The first step is to allow games in food primary spaces. The second step is to change the liquor licensing process in its entirety for the betterment of Vancouver's restaurant Industry as a whole.
Our plan is simple: with the help of our liquor inspector, the VPD, MLAs and Rising Tide, we aim to make the liquor board remove that stipulation and add one that allows our patrons to play games in our space. Then we will work with our consultants and the local businesses to change the 2-license system in Vancouver to a more robust, fair, and updated system. We don't have to look far for good examples - the rest of Canada has some excellent systems we can follow to make ours infinitely better.”
Casey: “Of course there are going to be plenty of people, myself included, that are upset about the decisions made by the LCLB. How can the community help fight for EXP to reach the original concept that you came up with and achieve its full potential?”
Brian: “The battle plan will be to get everyone to sign our EXP petition, e-mail their MLA to bring this issue to their attention, and then garner support from the local video game and tech companies alongside as many restaurateurs and license holders as possible to truly show the solidarity of Vancouver's Community.
Please don't send the liquor board hate mail, it won't help us. Let's just work together to build something they can't even begin to argue with. Let's work together to show them they can't bully us, and let's do it as politely as possible to keep our Canadian pride intact, eh?
We can do this together and make sure Vancouver gets its gamer-centric venue where you can play your favourite titles with your friends while eating and drinking. We won't ever give up; we'll fight until our HP reaches 0... and even then, we have boxes of auto-use Phoenix Downs. Bring it on.”
It’s unfortunate that a unique concept like this is being squashed by the powers that be because the LCLB can't seem to grasp the concept and benefit of this venue. Vancouver is one of North America’s largest video game communities, we have regular events, launch parties, hell even burlesque shows that feature video game themes. EXP was one of the first venues to come out and say they wanted to bring that concept into a full-time feature and because of that they are being steamrolled by the LCLB.
Fortunately there is precedence for these kinds of archaic, snap-judgment policies being overturned. With the recent fight and subsequent victory at the RIO Theater, Vancouver proved that its community can be more powerful than the liquor board and that ridiculous decisions and restrictions on our venues CAN be over turned. Shogun Gamer fully supports the fight for EXP to overturn the decision levied against them, and humbly requests your help as well.
As Brian had mentioned there is a petition available online which is (as of this article) currently at 2,000 of the 10,000 needed signatures. You can also reach out to your local MLA and let them know that things are getting out of hand, and that you want your government elected representative to help fight on your behalf to get rid of dated policies decided by people who have no proper concept of the 21st century or its community.
Once you’ve signed the petition (and hopefully sent a quick email your MLA) you can also help alert others to the cause by joining the group on Facebook, Tweeting about the bar and its fight, as well as encouraging your friends to get involved.
With your help, we can get EXP back on track to achieve its full potential. Hopefully EXP will become a venue for some awesome events, parties, and Shogun-centric get-togethers in the near future.
June 13, 2012
ArticleReview of APIs: Here’s Where it Gets Interesting! An Introduction to the GSMA Canadian OneAPI Gateway
Thank you to everyone that made it out for the GSMA Canadian OneAPI Gateway event -- it was a great one! Thank you to GSMA OneAPI and WIP for allowing DigiBC to organize the evening and to the Canadian OneAPI partners Bell, Telus and Rogers. A special thank you to...see more
Thank you to everyone that made it out for the GSMA Canadian OneAPI Gateway event -- it was a great one! Thank you to GSMA OneAPI and WIP for allowing DigiBC to organize the evening and to the Canadian OneAPI partners Bell, Telus and Rogers. A special thank you to Fasken Martineau for providing the venue for the presentation and to Drew Cooks! Catering for the delicious refreshments. Speakers Margaret Tham (TELUS), Pauline Chay (GSMA) and David O’Neil (Evangelist) outlined the benefits of using an API and the ease it provides to mobile app developers. The GSMA OneAPI Gateway is now commercial, and Bell, Rogers and TELUS have teamed together to make both campaigns and mobile app development quicker and less complicated. There were two break out sessions at this event: a Business Track session for Marketing and Product development folks, and a Technical Track session for developers. All the presenters were exceptionally knowledgable and there was great networking had by all those that attended. DigiBC hopes everyone enjoyed this event as much as we did.
If you were unable to make this event and would like to know about similar events DigiBC is holding in the future, please check our events calendar. If you would like to get in touch with one of the presenters, please contact Carly Graham (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we would be more than happy to connect you!