Xona Games: Canada Business Feature

Monday, June 20, 2011
By: Matthew Doucette

Xona Games has been featured and interviewed in the Canada Business bulletin, "Nova Scotia’s monthly business information bulletin", June 2011 issue:

Xona Games featured in the Canada Business bulletin (June 2011).

It reads (links added by us):

Playing with the Big Boys
It’s game on for digital business

by Kayla MacDonald and Cindy Allen

Photo: John Sherlock
Matthew and Jason Doucette of Xona Games in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia:
Quality products trump business location in the gaming world.

If you’ve watched YouTube, played a game on your Nintendo DS, or downloaded the latest app for your handheld device lately, then you know how pervasive digital media has become in our entertainment and information worlds.

With parts of Canada dubbed the “Silicon Valley of the North”, the country has become a hotbed of technology innovation involving some 14,000 skilled digital media workers, and 260+ digital media companies.

Within the sector, the multibillion-dollar video game industry is experiencing tremendous growth, with Canadian companies poised as global leaders across the entire gaming value chain – from tools development to casual games and serious games, to mobile game and gameware development.

It’s an industry on the move. Literally.

More and more companies are choosing to set up shop outside of the traditional hubs of gaming creativity -Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Nova Scotia, for example, is home to internationally-recognized studios such as HB Studios, Longtail Studios, the Red Space, Twisted Oak and Xona Games, with more expected to arrive.

Attractive tax incentives, a highly-skilled workforce, low employee turnaround and a good quality of life are all cited as draws to the province.

Twin brothers Matthew and Jason Doucette well know the benefits of doing business here and have happily never had to leave home to reach their level of business success.

“Video game development is part of a highly competitive global market,” the Xona Games creators explain, but the physical location of a digital business barely matters in a wired world.

The world’s top publishers such as Nintendo, Electronic Arts, and Activision, have their pick of games developed around the globe, yet Xona Games, located in small-town Nova Scotia is firmly on the global radar with its award-winning games, and enjoying recognition in notable gaming publications.

How? The Doucettes started their independent business young, and with a unique recipe for success.

“Many people think that my brother and I are gifted or that our expertise is a product of the classroom, but it is our continuous crafting of new games and dedication that has taught us everything we know.”

Matthew also advocates that if you’re interested in the development business, first jump in and give it a try. “If you don’t enjoy the process and can’t challenge yourself, then maybe the industry isn’t right for you.”

Both Acadia University graduates realize that a university education can only get you so far. “Like most things, it boils down to the fundamental principle that practice makes perfect,” reinforces Jason.

Practice, plus the evolution of new concepts and credos. The brothers compiled their own philosophies into something they call “Game Code” – a list of do’s and don’ts collected from video games they played in their youth. Jason adds that while the Game Code doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, it does guarantee high quality: an element publishers want.

It’s also important to get out there and attend events like the annual Game Developers Conference, the world’s largest professionals-only game industry event, held in San Francisco, California. This year, Matthew and Jason’s small business display was set up near industry giants like Nintendo and Google.

But don’t expect “business quite as usual” at a trade show like this.

The brothers laugh as they highlight the unique cultural differences these events tend to reveal about the digital business world, where media and video game developers are beyond the formality of wearing a suit and tie:

“Some of the biggest industry leaders walk around wearing ripped jeans and an old t-shirt.” In the gaming industry, appearances are irrelevant: A developer’s work speaks for itself, say the brothers, and is an art form that entails creative and quality work.

As digital media evolves and new forms emerge, so do opportunities for developers. Mobile gaming systems and family-friendly video games are just a few niches now spurring industry growth. The Doucette brothers plan on taking full advantage of the expanding industry.

“Games for social media platforms such as Farm Ville on Facebook, and games geared towards women are a few changes that have already taken storm,” says Doucette. “The industry is here to stay and can only be expected to continue to grow.”

Above: A Xona Games display looks completely at home just
steps from that of global giant, Nintendo.

Profile of an entrepreneur

Who: Jason and Matthew Doucette
Company: Xona Studios, video game design
Location: Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
Established: 2008
Current Game Platforms: Xbox LIVE Indie Games and Windows Phone 7
Future Goals: Xbox LIVE Arcade, PlayStation Network, Windows PC, Nintendo Wii and iPhone
Watch: Matthew’s Are you smarter than a CEO? Interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChF8o28_c1o

Gameplay shot from Score Rush (scorerush.com) - a 4-player shoot ‘em up game from Xona

Read the original article here: or off our own server here: 06-2011.pdf.

Thanks to Kayla MacDonald and Cindy Allen, and Canada Business, for featuring us!



About the Author: I am Matthew Doucette of Xona Games, an award-winning indie game studio that I founded with my twin brother. We make intensified arcade-style retro games. Our business, our games, our technology, and we as competitive gamers have won prestigious awards and received worldwide press. Our business has won $190,000 in contests. Our games have ranked from #1 in Canada to #1 in Japan, have become #1 best sellers in multiple countries, have won game contests, and have held 3 of the top 5 rated spots in Japan of all Xbox LIVE indie games. Our game engines have been awarded for technical excellence. And we, the developers, have placed #1 in competitive gaming competitions -- relating to the games we make. Read about our story, our awards, our games, and view our blog.