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Vancouver's East Side Games cuts 20% of workforce

Company, best known for mobile gaming, among largest digital firms in province
East Side Games is cutting 20 per cent of its workforce, according to an Aug. 24 announcement. | Rob Kruyt, BIV

It’s game over for dozens of workers at one of B.C.’s largest gaming companies.

East Side Games Group Inc. (TSX:EAGR) revealed Thursday it’s cutting 20 per cent of its staff.

The Vancouver-based company reported earlier this year it had a staff of 180 workers, but earlier this month it revised that number to about 100 workers.

CEO Jason Bailey said in a statement the decision was not made lightly and East Side Games said in the same announcement it was cutting staff to make it a “leaner, stronger and more focused company.”

“British Columbia is known as a hotbed for talent,” Brenda Bailey, B.C.’s minister of jobs, economic development and innovation, told BIV earlier this month.

A former executive director of the DigiBC industry group and a co-founder of the game studio Silicon Sisters, Bailey said the province’s existing talent pool has been a competitive advantage over other markets.

“We need to ensure we continue that,” she said.

The layoffs at East Side Games aren’t the only ones hitting the sector in recent months.

In May this year, just three months after Relic Entertainment released the PC game Company of Heroes 3, the studio announced it was laying off 121 people.  

“The combination of significant project delays, rapidly rising costs, high inflation and foreign exchange rate fluctuations have had a combined negative effect on our business,” Relic general manager Justin Dowdeswell and COO Heidi Eaves explained to employees in a post on LinkedIn.  

“As a result, the measure of success for a studio of our size has grown, and it has put more pressure on our titles to succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

The video game sector in Canada grew by 35 per cent between 2019 and 2021 to 937 companies, according to a survey by Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC). 

The industry contributed $5.5 billion to Canada’s GDP, the association estimated, and directly employed 32,300 Canadians. 

In B.C., gaming employment grew by 19 per cent to 8,700 jobs.

The association has not updated its survey for 2023, but ESAC president Jayson Hilchiesaid told BIVindicators are that the sector is holding up well.

—With files from Nelson Bennett