Recent console game studio closures in Vancouver have paved the way for smaller mobile and social gaming studios to set up shop. The latest new arrival is San Francisco-based mobile game developer TinyCo, which announced today it will open a 60-person studio in Vancouver.
The local gaming industry has expressed concerns about digital tax credits in Ontario and Quebec – which are twice what they are in B.C. – luring away companies like Rockstar Games, which recently closed its Vancouver shop to move to Toronto.
TinyCo founder and CEO Suli Ali said tax credits never even entered the discussion when the company decided to open a studio in Vancouver. Time zones and talent had more to do with the decision.
"It's the same time zone and a very quick flight for us to get up there," Ali told Business in Vancouver. "We're going to want to have some of our San Francisco team up there as we start to ramp up."
Several local console game studios have either closed their Vancouver studios or downsized, which makes for a well-stocked talent pool.
"There's still some console developers in the space [and] there might be some potential talent who might want to work for a smaller, more nimble creative company like ours," Ali said.
"The culture in Vancouver is really hot still. Vancouver already has a lot of great mobile developers. To have that DNA, that community, [where] we can try to find some new great talent makes it a really easy choice for us."
Compared to most console game studios, TinyCo is small. It has 130 employees in San Francisco and it also has a studio in Buenos Aires.
"We're looking to make the Vancouver office a stand-alone development centre, which will have up to 60 employees," Ali said. "Some of their initial projects might be some of the game projects that are coming down the pipe here, but we really want the team there to create their own IT."
TinyCo makes mobile-only games for Apple and Android devices and the Kindle Fire. The company makes a series of mini Farmville-type games, like Tiny Zoo and Tiny Pets. It also makes a popular mobile poker app, VIP Poker.
The company has already started hiring and hopes to be fully operational within 60 days.