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Hothead's  DeathSpank  Given Canadian Grant
Hothead's DeathSpank Given Canadian Grant Exclusive
August 7, 2009 | By Chris Remo, Leigh Alexander

August 7, 2009 | By Chris Remo, Leigh Alexander
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    8 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive



Canadian government funding can play a key role in the success of independent studios, and new Gamasutra-obtained data from Telefilm Canada, that nation's federal cultural industry agency, details the extent of such funding for key indie games.

Most notably, Telefilm awarded Hothead Games' DeathSpank, the latest project from acclaimed Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert, one of the highest amounts ever given to a video game project: an impressive $536,069 from the Canada New Media Fund. The maximum amount that can be awarded in a fiscal year is $550.000.

Fez, Polytron Corporation's IGF prize-winning 2D/3D platform game award winner, recently confirmed for a release on Xbox Live Arcade in 2010, also received $73,682 from the cultural agency, which funds games alongside TV and film projects.

Searching back further in the agency's records, Klei Entertainmentís well received XBLA title Eets: Chowdown, the follow-up to its Eets: Hunger. Itís Emotional, was partially funded by Telefilm. It received $70,238, while the original Eets for PC received $90,000.

In the past, indie developer Metanet also received Canadian government funding for the making of Slick Entertainment's N+, and in their Gamasutra-reprinted Indie Games Summit postmortem for the title explained the way the grants work: they must be repaid from a game's profit -- but if a game does not end up making money, there is no repayment involved.

Though the grants are classified as "repayable advances," there are steps a developer can take to lessen its financial obligation. For example, including both English- and French-language options in the game will reduce the requisite payback amount by 10 percent.

These examples demonstrate Canada's continued attempts to nurture the game biz closely -- this Canada-wide program complements other local tax- and incentive-based programs that have seen major studios from Electronic Arts and Eidos set up in Montreal, as well as Ubisoft's expansion into Toronto.

[UPDATE: Although listed as receiving the funding, Jason DeGroot, musician for Fez, wrote in Gamasutra's comments: "To further clarify, Fez only received prototype/pre-production funding last year in 2008. Unfortunately, Telefilm decided to pull the carpet from beneath our feet for 2009."

"It should also be noted that the Canadian New Media Fund will be merged with the Canadian Television Fund in 2010, forcing all forms of media (tv/film/intreactive) to compete for the same funding."]


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Comments


Alexander Bruce
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"they must be repaid from a game's profit -- but if a game end up being successful enough to make money, there is no repayment involved."



Is this saying that they they're supposed to repay, but don't really, or is it meant to say that there is no repayment involved if they don't end up being successful enough?

Simon Carless
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We've clarified this point, Alexander, it was misphrased - no repayment if you don't make a profit, as we understand it.

nathan vella
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To clarify (and better quote what mare said), Telefilm provides conditional financing that must be 100% repaid out of the revenue the title generates.

Simon Carless
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Chris Remo (who is researching this area for us right now for a Game Developer Research report, hence this story!) added a little extra info, too - I love it that "including both English- and French-language options in the game will reduce the requisite payback amount by 10 percent."

Frank Forrestall
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I'm from Canada and I've produced and developed projects with Telefilm in the past. The system has been slow (but steady) to embrace games because the money is considered a "cultural investment" and it's taken a while for public opinion to consider games as culture enterprise (figuring that most elected officials have never turned on a game console).

Jim McGinley
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I live in Toronto (Canada), create totally awesome games, yet receive no funding.

Unwilling to consider if that makes my games less than totally awesome.

Also, I've never applied for funding (it's not for the feint of heart).

I'm keeping it real. There are many like me. We are legion.



In my case, lack of funding means I work full time building large scale corporate web sites.

That's 50+ hours a week not working on my games.

Some might argue that's the reason my games are less than totally awesome,

but again they ARE totally awesome so I don't know what they (or you) are talking about.



Given the proven track record and exposure of Fez (IGF Winner),

DeathSpank (Penny Arcade Adventures), and N (ultra successful flash game),

I think the government is extremely smart ensuring they stay focused on creating games,

rather than work on other things unlikely to be international successes.

i.e. large scale corporate web sites

It's a decent gamble and the return on investment for Canada will be fantastic.

Jason DeGroot
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To further clairfy, Fez only received prototype/pre-production funding last year in 2008. Unfortunately, Telefilm decided to pull the carpet from beneath our feet for 2009.



It should also be noted that the Canadian New Media Fund will be merged with the Canadian Television Fund in 2010, forcing all forms of media (tv/film/intreactive) to compete for the same funding.

Ryan Creighton
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Interesting ... the games mentioned in this article are some of the few success stories from Canada. And come to think of it, i'm not sure if i've heard of a single successful Canadian indie video game project that *wasn't* funded by grants and gimmes. Anyone wanna prove me wrong on that?



- Ryan


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