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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
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 Entertainment’s well received XBLA title Eets: Chowdown, the follow-up to its Eets: Hunger. It’s 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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