Vancouver video game industry in peril
Published Wednesday, October 31, 2012 3:40PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 31, 2012 6:34PM PDT
It may soon be game over for video game developers in Vancouver.
That is the message that many in the industry are trying to get across. Last summer, Microsoft Studios laid off 35 workers in Vancouver, while Radical Entertainment let go of 89 employees. Rockstar Games also moved its 35-person studio to Toronto.
“We feel that the B.C. video game industry has come under threat recently, and it is in a bit of peril,” said Lance Davis, the chief financial officer for Vancouver-based Slant Six Games, which employs 70 people.
Davis says since 2008, a significant amount of investment into the industry has decreased, resulting in the loss of approximately 1,400 jobs in the last four years.
Many in the industry in Vancouver blame the losses on the B.C. government, and claim that the jobs are going east because of better tax breaks in Quebec and in Ontario. As big companies leave and smaller companies remain, employment opportunities shrink, says Lee Steg, who left Vancouver to develop games for Microsoft in Washington.
“There’s no way to get a lead position or a management position because they’re just too small, and the bigger studios are the ones that give you those opportunities,” he said.
Bill Bennett, B.C.’s minister of community, sport, and cultural development, says he understands the industry’s struggles in the province. However, he maintains that the government’s hands are tied in terms of providing the type of tax breaks that are experienced in Ontario or Quebec.
“I’m not saying that we won’t level the playing field,” he said. “It’s not an easy decision at a time when the province is trying to balance its budget. Apparently Quebec and Ontario don’t worry as much about that.”
With files from CTV British Columbia’s Nafeesa Karim