Is the Video Game Industry in Trouble in British Columbia?

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?

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