Is the Video Game Industry in Trouble in British Columbia?

by Rob Lewis

This week Business in Vancouver newspaper printed their annual Biggest Video Game Companies in B.C. list and the usual suspects are all there.

The Top 10 employers include Electronic Arts, Capcom Game Studio, United Front Games, THQ Canada (Relic), Radical Entertainment, Slant Six Games, Next Level Games, Big Park, Rockstar Vancouver, and Ubisoft Vancouver.

But on the heels of the news last week that Ubisoft is closing up shop in Vancouver, I thought it would be interesting to drill down into the employment numbers reported by BIV to see if other studios may be following in Ubisoft's footsteps.

According to Business in Vancouver Ubisoft Vancouver employed 91 in 2011 and that number drops to 65 for the 2012 list. We now know that the actual headcount will be zero very soon.

A quick scan of the Top 10 employers reveals a little more information that could be called a trend. Two of the companies - Capcom and United Front - report that they have grown in the past year whereas five companies - THQ, Slant Six, Next Level, Rockstar, and Ubisoft - have seen headcount shrink.

Is this trend thanks to emergence of social games? They're the fastest growing segment of the gaming market and old-school game studios like BC's Top 10 may have been slow to buy in.

Or are gaming jobs slowly moving East as a result of aggressive government subsidies in Ontario and Quebec?

Ubisoft Toronto
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Ubisoft Toronto is a growing and diverse team on a collective mission to create what’s next in AAA games. Whether as an elite spy, a master assassin, or a fearless explorer, we put the player at the heart of all our games. Since opening our studio in 2010, our team shipped the critically-acclaimed Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist as lead studio, and Assassin’s Creed Unity and Far Cry 4 in... more

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Rob Lewis

Rob Lewis

Rob is the President of Techvibes Media and Editor-in-Chief of  His diverse background includes stints in International Trade Finance, Web Development, and Enterprise Software and he is a graduate of the University of British Columbia, British Columbia Institute of Technology, and Simon Fraser University. When not running Canada's leading technology media property, Rob can be... more

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