icejam studio creating mobile games that change with the times

A new Prince Edward Island company says it's about to change the way people play games on their mobile devices with some help from government to make it all happen.

ACOA just announced nearly $500K in funding, province contributing more than $200K

Stu Duncan is the founder and CEO of Charlottetown's icejam studio. (CBC)

A new Prince Edward Island company says it's about to change the way people play games on their mobile devices with some help from government to make it all happen.

Stu Duncan is the founder and CEO of Charlottetown's icejam studio and he is on a mission to create mobile games that change with the times.

The idea is to develop games that grab online data on things like weather, stock markets, global events then incorporate it into the playing experience. 

"Any kind of data which changes with real-world data, is likely to make the game more interesting for a user," Duncan said.

"They're not going to know day to day as they experience the game what's about to happen. In a regular game, especially a mobile game, the experience can become quite predictable."

It's a concept Duncan has been planning for years, but couldn't act on.

He had another successful gaming company, called Bight Games, that he sold to Electronic Arts. As part of the deal with EA, Duncan couldn't compete against them until just recently.

Duncan has reassembled his old Bight Games staff and he says, the timing couldn't be better. 

Government support imperative

"It's only now where millions of people have access to these very powerful devices, and there's so much free data just floating around that can be raw material for us," he said. 

Government is showing its support for the company. ACOA just announced nearly $500,000 in funding and the provincial government is contributing more than $200,000. The provincial money will come in wage subsidies as he hires more staff.

Duncan says that kind of government support is imperative.

"The government really has to play a role because there's enough people leaving already going out west and we don't want these kinds of jobs to leave," he said.

"If nothing else, government really needs to keep pace with the other kinds of incentives in other jurisdictions."

P.E.I.'s Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald says there's big money in the gaming world and the province wants to ensure it stays a part of it.

"It is very competitive and if we don't ante up some sort of benefits to bring these companies here, they're going elsewhere," he said. "You've got to remember that video gaming is something that can be picked up and moved relatively quickly." 

Duncan says within the year he expects to more than double his staff.

"If we stay on projection, we could be at 50 people a year from now.  We're currently at 10. We could grow to 50 within a year," he said.

icejam's first game is due to launch in March.

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