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Vancouver's struggling game industry gets relief with new Gree studio

Vancouver's struggling game industry gets relief with new Gree studio

July 20, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

After a tough year for the game industry in Vancouver, Japanese mobile social game developer and network operator Gree has announced plans to open a new development office in the city.

Dedicated to creating free-to-play mobile games, the new studio builds on Gree's recent efforts to establish a Western presence, such as opening a North American branch in San Francisco, acquiring Modern War developer Funzio, launching a global platform, and numerous other moves.

The creation of this studio is also a rare bright spot for what's been a dark period for game makers in Vancouver, as companies there have been laying off employees or shutting down studios left and right.

Just this month, Dead Rising 2 developer Capcom Vancouver laid off 7 percent of its staff, and Rockstar Games closed its division in the city that made Max Payne 3 (relocating a portion of workers there to Rockstar Toronto).

Those troubles followed a series of misfortunes for Vancouver's games companies, such as Ubisoft closing its branch in the city (Pure Futbol), Radical Entertainment (Prototype) reducing its headcount significantly, and THQ letting go of staff at Relic Entertainment (Company of Heroes).

Gree's Vancouver studio, which will be headed up by OpenFeint and Google veteran Steve Lin, intends to release its first game in the next six to eight months, and is currently hiring engineers, artists, and an executive producer to help the team meet that goal.

The company had previously developed ties with the city after investing an undisclosed sum in Vancouver-based developer IUGO Mobile Entertainment (Animal Academy) to create free-to-play titles.

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