I went to an industry mixer, last night. Met some good people, ate some food and drank a little wine. This was the general take-away message from all the people I talked to: Vancouver’s game industry is currently in a shit storm.. That is pretty much verbatim. A shit storm. If you’ve been following along with the news recently, you’ll know that many companies have been laying off employees and even closing entire studios.
Major job cuts
- Disney laid off 70 at Propaganda.
- Activision Blizzard cut Radical in half (100 laid off).
- EA closed the Black Box studio (1000 laid off) and cancelled their planned expansion into Yaletown.
- Nexon Vancouver closed down (100 laid off).
- Relic (THQ) has some impending layoffs.
Business is business
You see, there is this little thing wrapping up called the Fiscal Year. (Canada’s fiscal year starts on April 1st, where as the United States’ fiscal year starts on October 1st – I love you, Wikipedia). When a business sees their expenses were higher and their profits were lower than expectations, they get nervous and pull out the axe. This softens the blow to shareholders, but doesn’t really seem fair to the people whose jobs were cut, does it? But hey, that’s business, I guess. And due to the economic situation, most companies will be picking up the axe. Some companies (I won’t mention any names) are known for doing this and then hiring the people they need back again in the next fiscal year, with new budgets. So once April rolls around, there will be some hiring again and the industry will recover a little. But since we’re in a “financial crisis,” (despite some in the games industry doing quite well: Nintendo, Valve, Blizzard) I don’t think budgets will be as big nor as many people hired back. This means the job market will be flooded with experienced people looking for jobs. Which is pretty much the current situation.
Get in the game?
So how can some fresh blood such as myself get my foot in the door of a full house that’s shrinking? It’s still certainly possible, it’s just not going to be easy. One person I spoke to today said she had to start as a tester and make her way up to Software Engineer (SE) – “which was pretty ridiculous” (her words). Did I mention that
EA cut testers EA cut testers? Another person I spoke to suggested giving away services… or an internship to gain some experience. Another suggestion was working with a small outfit (or a couple friends) on an iPhone app. Most of the people I talked to were experienced (10-15yrs), had recently been laid off, and were also looking for jobs. Personally, I’d love to make a WiiWare game. That’s something that would be really cool, but then you have to do the entrepreneurial thing and raise money (I’ve heard investors are less willing to take risks, these days..) – plus there’s that whole experience thing…. I’m not ruling anything out. I’ll keep looking, but now does not seem to be the time to get involved. And I’m not going to limit myself to the games industry, that’s for sure. Or even the IT sector. I decided a while ago that I need a change in my life, so I might do something completely different for a little while. Collect some pennies, meet some people, and gain some (life) experiences, hopefully.
Whatever comes, I’m looking forward to it. I have a good feeling. And I’m also looking forward to the industry picking up steam again soon! =) Hey, Ubisoft just acquired Action Pants, and should be expanding – that’s some positive news! 🙂
(Read a related post, from someone in the industry here. Update: Then read the author’s own accounts of her employer, Nexon, shutting down. Fantastic blog with a beautiful range of topics, all of which I enjoy. Subscribed.)