Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Game Change

Samples of HB Studio's games
The gaming scene was much different when Jeremy Wellard emigrated to Canada in 1999 with an idea to start his own e-entertainment company. Today, with over 35 popular titles to their credit in an ever-hungry game market, HB Studios is not looking back.

With North American sales of video game software now rising above movie box office receipts, it seems clear that video gaming has become today’s preferred entertainment choice ― and not just among young people.

Nearly 60 per cent of all Canadians now classify themselves as ‘gamers’ and surprisingly enough, their average age is 33.

Currently, Canada’s video game industry ranks third in the world, employs over 16,000 people and is responsible for $1.7 billion in direct economic impact.

And the Atlantic region is home to 10 percent of the country’s video game development pie. Including Jeremy’s company, which now employs a team of over 100 people and occupies a 20,000-sq-ft studio in Lunenburg, including a 250-seat theatre, gym, and daycare, along with an office in Halifax.

Jeremy says that support from ACOA has been important to the success of HB Studios, especially in their start-up phase.

“In the beginning, we were the only game developers in the province that I was aware of. Despite the fact that this gaming industry was really new to the region, ACOA took my idea seriously and had the foresight to see that it could work out,” he said.

Over the years, ACOA programs have helped the company recruit and develop staff, undergo construction and renovations to their facilities, and expand the capabilities of their gaming engine platforms, enabling them to take their business in new directions.

And as for the future?

According to Jeremy, the gaming landscape is ever-changing, and developers who want to survive must adapt quickly.

“Today, diversity and collaboration define the new game, as does mobility: the Smartphone has revolutionized this industry,” says Jeremy.

As such, as it continues its work on traditional console games, HB Studios now directs 30 per cent of its creative force towards mobile gaming. And during slow periods, their programmers are sometimes hired out to publishers or other developers to ensure a steady flow of work in their rural community.

“In this business, we spend a lot of time trying to predict things and work out what is going to be big. It’s such a highly shifting and changing industry that anything beyond six months is complete guesswork.”

If Jeremy's past guesswork foretells anything about his future, it's 'Game On' for this innovative and forward-thinking entrepreneur.

Published May 18, 2012