Alberta is in the game to become a global esports hub with a strong competitive video gaming community, record innovation investment and an established esports association.
Championed by a provincial esports working group – Calgary Economic Development, Edmonton Screen Industries Office, Edmonton Global, Tourism Calgary, Explore Edmonton and the Alberta Esports Association – the province is prepared to seize the billion-dollar opportunity with the launch of the Alberta Esports Strategy.
“The digital media and entertainment industry in Calgary and Alberta is positioned to experience exponential growth, particularly within esports,” said Luke Azevedo, Vice President, Creative Industries, Calgary Economic Development.
“Together we can advance our vision for esports and continue to attract young, skilled tech talent and investment to our province. With collaboration across government, post secondaries and industry, Alberta is emerging as a new hub for esports.”
Currently the esports industry sits at a global revenue of $1.1 billion with year-over-year growth of 15.7 per cent.
GDP contribution to Canada’s economy by the video game industry in 2021 is estimated at $5.5 billion, a 23 per cent increase since 2019. Esports is a subset of the global video game industry, which generated $175 billion USD in 2020. The global video game industry is projected to grow to $218 billion USD by 2024.
“This unique provincial approach to the strategy will help to create alignment as each of our regions begin to invest in and develop this industry, said Tom Viinikka, CEO, Edmonton Screen Industries Office. “We are laying the foundation for something that will someday have as big or an even bigger presence than professional sport currently has in our province."
Four pillars form the foundation of a robust esports ecosystem within the Alberta Esports Strategy — grassroots community, place to play, talent presence and pipeline and partnerships. Maturation of initiatives within the pillars will encourage esports tourism, develop educational pathways, attract young talent and create opportunities for private and venture capital investment.
“We look forward to the opportunity to attract provincial, national, and international esports events to our city, driving the visitor economy and showcasing Calgary to an active and involved community of gamers across the globe,” said Cindy Ady, CEO, Tourism Calgary.
Development of the esports ecosystem aligns with Calgary’s vision to create long-term prosperity and opportunities for all through innovation, as outlined in the economic strategy Calgary in the New Economy.
“Beyond economic diversification, esports creates inclusive and accessible opportunities for viewers and competitors. The industry presents an opportunity for multicultural community engagement and participation, which positions Alberta for sustainable growth” said Azevedo.
Already home to over 130 innovative gaming studios, support services and institutions, Alberta has a strong esports community. Over 100 competitors regularly compete in weekly tournaments, a trend which is set to continue.
"The supporting data and recommendations from the report will act as a clear signal to entrepreneurs and professionals looking to break into this space that esports is growing and Alberta is the place you want to be,” said CK Dhaliwal, Business Development Specialist, Alberta Esports Association.
With creative industries in Alberta projected to spend $1.3B on digital transformation by 2024, esports ecosystem development will be accelerated alongside the province’s 5G connectivity, cloud computing, AI and machine learning development.
“The University of Alberta and Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute are ranked number one and two in terms of technical games research in the world. With our strong esports and digital media ecosystem, the Edmonton region is well suited to bring the international esport community to our door,” said Malcolm Bruce, CEO, Edmonton Global.
Record-breaking years for venture capital investment indicate innovative ideas in Alberta are scaling to new heights.
“Esports are fast-growing and provide powerful entertainment options for millions and millions of players and fans around the world,” said Traci Bednard, CEO, Explore Edmonton.
With a keen focus on innovation, digital transformation and developing the creative economy, esports is rising to the top of the roster as an industry to watch.
Access the full Alberta Esports Strategy, and the Alberta Esports Strategy Highlights to learn more.
For more on Calgary’s Esports sector, visit the Digital Media and Entertainment page.
Alberta Esports Strategy