The Globe and Mail published their second annual ranking of Canada’s Top Growing Companies last week and the list of 400 businesses sprawl across sectors, from fashion to finance, and manufacture everything from medical testing devices to organic pasta.
Techcouver has poured over the list to uncover Vancouver’s gems of entrepreneurial success, whether they be companies that we’ve all heard of or are hearing about for the very first time.
One local theme became very apparent.
Vancouver’s gaming ecosystem is thriving and four independent gaming studios are driving that growth. These four local gaming companies were responsible for a combined $100+ million in revenue last year and employ over 500. That’s a lot of downloads.
The Globe and Mail’s application deadline for this list was May 2020 and all revenue numbers are for 2019. They do not take into account the increased sales of video games as a result of stay-at-home and lockdown orders from the pandemic. That’s even more downloads!
East Side Games develops video games for mobile devices and recently claimed the #47 spot on Pocket Gamer’s Top 50 Mobile Game Makers list. Checking in at #331 on the Globe’s list, East Side Games (ESG) has recorded 98% revenue growth over the past 3 years with revenue in the $25-50 million range.
A ‘proudly’ independent studio founded by Jason Bailey and Josh Nilson in 2011, ESG has had success in the television genre with games based on Trailer Park Boys, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The Goldbergs. CEO Nilson is a finalist for the Person of the Year award at this year’s TIAs.
Founded in 2015 by Solon Bucholtz and Dennis Molloy, LBC Studios was originally founded to create and develop a AAA-quality, marijuana-themed mobile game. Mission accomplished: “Hempire” was launched worldwide in 2017. LBC’s renewed mission is to cultivate the freshest interactive experiences in the mobile world.
Ranked #9 on the list with a 3-year revenue growth of 4,911%, it is safe to say this game studio is on fire. LBC reported 2019 revenue in the 5-10 million range but with their ridiculous growth rate they won’t stay there long. LBC plans to launch two new games in 2021, one with well-known IP.
Blackbird Interactive develops original and branding video games. Founded by former members of Relic Entertainment and EA Canada, Blackbird Interactive ranked #56 on the Globe’s list with 2019 revenue in the range of $10-25 million and a 3-year growth rate of 989%.
Blackbird employees 230 at their new office on Great Northern Way and is best known for developing Hardspace: Shipbreaker and Minecraft Earth.
A Thinking Ape creates free-to-play games for mobile devices. Ranked #262 by the Globe and Mail, A Thinking Ape (ATA) topped $25 million in revenue in 2019 and has experienced 3-year revenue growth of 145%.
Founded by Kenshi Arasaki, Wilkins Chung, and Eric Diep in 2008, ATA made the 2020 list of Best Workplaces in Canada. Among ATA’s most recognizable gaming titles are Kingdoms of Heckfire, Party in my Dorm, and Kingdoms At War.