Undisclosed deal with Ontario lures Rockstar Games east

Vancouver to lose 35 jobs; Toronto to gain approximately 85

Rockstar Games, makers of Max Payne 3, will close its 35-person Vancouver studio and expand in Toronto

In a move that smacks of job poaching by the Ontario government, Rockstar Games is packing up shop in Vancouver and expanding in Toronto.

The company welcomed what it called a strategic partnership with the Ontario government. However, neither Rockstar nor the Ontario government has disclosed transaction details.

Aside from moving its 35-person Vancouver-based development team to a new and expanded Toronto facility, Rockstar said it plans to add more than 50 positions at its Toronto studio.

DigiBCpresident Howard Donaldson said Ontario and Quebec are "aggressive" in the national competition for game studios.

"When I worked for Disney, [Ontario and Quebec] pretty much rolled out the red carpet for us, and the same thing happened in Georgia, Michigan, [and] Ireland," he said. "Governments around the world are more aggressive than B.C. is."

B.C. culture minister Ida Chong voiced concern about the inter-provincial tug-of-war for videogame jobs. She noted that B.C. has a "much better" fiscal situation than Ontario.

"At what point [is Ontario] going to realize that their taxpayers aren't able to continue to afford some of the generous things that they're doing to chase businesses?"

Chong said B.C. should focus on attracting companies from outside of Canada – and specifically from Asia.

For Donaldson, the issue of aggressive job poaching is less of a threat to B.C.'s videogame industry than the province's comparatively low tax credit for the sector. He said to compete for videogame companies in Canada, B.C. needs to almost double its 17.5% tax credit to at least 30%.

"If the tax credit were comparable [to other Canadian jurisdictions], we would have twice as many people here."

Rockstar is a publishing label of New York-based Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. •

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