Today Nexon America, a Korean-based video game publisher, suddenly and unexpectedly closed their Vancouver development studio, Humanature. It has been reported that 90 employees were let go. The video game development community is quite close in Vancouver and it was not difficult to find people who knew someone at Humanature. I personally know three people who worked there. For two of them, this will be the second studio shutdown they have experienced in less than a year.
The last few months have not been kind to the development community in this city. In recent memory we’ve had the massive job reductions at Radical Entertainment, the relatively minor layoffs at Black Box and EA Canada in October, and then considerable layoffs at Black Box just last week. There are rumours that EA Canada will face their major reductions this week.
In 2006, I remarked how it was undoubtedly a job seekers market for the video game development. Back then, I had so many options to choose from, beyond just EA. Times are now different. From actions from just the last two weeks, there are now approximately two hundred people in the local area now looking for jobs relating game development. I am sure there are much less than two hundred open positions in this city. I am not even sure if there are two hundred positions open in all of North America.
Though the action Radical was probably not related to the current recession, I am guessing that the other layoffs were. By my count, before this one, I’ve lived through two recessions: one in the 80s and other in the early 90s. Of course, I was just a kid in those times. When you’re a kid, you don’t really pay attention to these things. Also, I’m pretty sure my parents shielded me from concerns that I had no control over.
Things are different now. I’m an adult and I need steady employment. Hell, I’m on the verge of legally owning an apartment and having a mortgage. My concerns are very real-world. Though I am not in a state of panic, a small part of me remains cautious and slightly nervous about where the world economy is headed. How much worse can it get? No one can answer that of course and that’s why people are worried now.
Let’s hope this is the last of the bad news coming from my industry.