One of the world’s biggest mobile social gaming companies is setting up shop in Vancouver and giving hope to unemployed artists whose jobs have moved east.

Brad Dixon, a video game artist in the Lower Mainland, is one of 89 skilled developers laid off by Radical Entertainment last month.

"At the moment there's really no work in console video games, being PlayStation, Xbox and PC Games, in Vancouver,” he said.

“The video game industry has been hugely growing in Vancouver for the last 10 years really, but two or three years ago it started to shrink, and now every year it’s just more and more studios shutting down or shrinking.”

Jobs started bleeding to Ontario and Quebec because there gaming companies receive double the tax breaks.

But Dixon has new hope in Vancouver as the mobile social gaming company Gree International plans to open a new studio in the city.

"It would've been cheaper to go to Ontario, but what we really look at is who are the people that are there,” Steve Lin of Gree International said.

While Gree International chose B.C.’s talent pool over eastern tax breaks, critics say that’s not enough to keep the industry afloat.

Aspiring NDP candidate and new media guru Matt Toner says the province has taken what was once a thriving industry for granted.

"Right now, if you look at the Liberal government their responses have been baffling to me. ‘Everything's OK, maybe we'll make a few tweaks. We're not going to get into a tax regime race with governments back east. Everything's fine,’” he said.

“Well, this is not a coherent strategy. This is a lot of nothing."

Toner believes the industry can be saved without more tax breaks, but it needs a lot more research and support.

For Gree International, there are enough incentives to set up shop in Vancouver with 10 people making free smartphone games and then maybe follow in San Francisco’s footsteps.

"San Francisco, we started off about two years ago with a skeleton crew and now we're over 400 in that city. So as long as we're able to find the right talent and the games out of the studio look good, then we'll continue,” Lin said.

But local developers will have to adapt and learn to make smartphone games.

For people like Dixon who have experience, that’s not a guarantee they will land a job. So he’s planning for the worst.

"Give it three or four months and then we'll seriously consider moving out east,” he said.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Penny Daflos