Top North American Video Game Development Cities – Power Rankings

For our first attempt at ranking the top video game development cities, we looked strictly at studio count.  That list is interesting, but it’s missing a crucial component – studio head count.  There are cities with a large concentration of indie studios, and ranking by studio total will put them ahead of a city that actually has more available video game jobs.

To address that issue, we have put together an alternate list – sorted by “power ranking.”  We will keep both lists current, because they are both interesting in different ways.  In this list, studios are given a weight based on their approximate head count.  Some important disclaimers:

  • We uses ranges to track studio head counts (“11-50″, “201-500″, etc.).  These are not as useful as exact figures, but exact figures would be nearly impossible to track.  They are almost constantly in flux.
  • Head count numbers are not always easy to track down – there are some good sources for this info, but there are some large gaps in our data that we are constantly looking to fill in.
  • The “GJH Weight” is the number derived from our formula.
  • Because of the impreciseness of our data, our formula is closer to an educated guess than actual science.  Take all results with a grain of salt.

On to the list.  Let us know what you think!

#10New York City2954
#02Los Angeles91202
#01San Francisco113287
  • Paul Teall

    Got a headcount for SCEA in SF, and included that.  It gave SF a decent bump – I think tracking down numbers for larger studios like that could cause a bit of movement.

  • Paul Teall

    Adjusted Toronto’s score after removing Bedlam Games from that list, but Toronto stayed in the same spot.

  • Paul Teall

    Adjusted Montreal’s score after updating headcount info for Gameloft Montreal.  Montreal is just barely behind Vancouver now.

  • Paul Teall

    Updated Dallas’ score after adding 2 new studios – but it didn’t quite catch NYC.

  • Paul Teall

    Adjusted scores for SF, Boston, and Toronto.  SF lost Bigpoint Games.  Boston lost Zynga Boston.  Toronto added Game Pill.

  • Paul Teall

    Adjusted the score for Austin after adding/removing a few studios.  Didn’t have an impact on the rankings.

  • Paul Teall

    Adjusted the headcount for Silicon Knights in the Toronto area, which affected the Toronto score.  As a result, Chicago moved ahead of Toronto.

  • pteall

    Updated the score for Vancouver after adding Black Tusk Studios.  No changes to the rankings.

  • pteall

    Adjusted score for Boston after deleting ImaginEngine.  No changes to rankings.

  • Thanksbut

    I would be interested in seeing some kind of ‘quality’ score. Or perhaps separating by  genre.

    I see San Francisco is infested with numerous awful social/mobile studios while Seattle seems to have a scene motivated less by venture capital chasing Zynga’s model and more by a desire to make a good product.

    SF has quite a number of vaporware offices where everyone is an executive with an impressive looking bio but no actual products is being done! “Innovative solutions” is not a game.

    Lastly – a negative score should be awarded for every game that features ‘Bratz” doll style characters. This would put SF somewhere below Bangalore in the rankings.

  • Thanksagain

    Sorry – another observation. Many Japanese companies have a corporate publishing office in but no development. Konami in SF for example. They sometimes have engineering positions, PR or QA but they are not a dev studio.

  • Paul Teall

    We tried to call those out whenever we could.  For example, we’ve got the focus for Konami listed as “Operations.”  We also listed their notable titles as “North American publishing of Konami titles.”  I think it still makes sense to list them, because there might be non-devs looking for a job in games at those locations.

  • Paul Teall

    It’s an interesting idea, but what is “quality” based on?  Metacritic scores?  That only applies to AAA titles, not any social/mobile/tools companies/etc..  Sales?  Released titles?

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  • Paul Teall

    Removed Zynga studios from Dallas, NYC and LA. That pushed Toronto slightly ahead of NYC.

  • Paul Teall

    Added Uken Games to the Toronto list, which pushed Toronto slightly ahead of Chicago.

  • peetoose

    This would be good when compared to city populations. That way you could weigh the potential jobs against the potential number of people competing for those jobs.

  • Anonymous

    Not so. The city population doesn’t reflect the number of people seeking employment at these places. Many people from out of state are also looking at these same positions, and not everyone in one of these cities is in the industry.

  • Paul Teall

    One of the things I’ve thought about is a cost-of-living comparison. That kind of data is easy to find, and should definitely factor into any decision you make on relocation.

  • Alex Boer

    What does GJH stand for?

  • Paul Teall

    GameJobHunter – it’s the name of our site.

  • Paul Teall

    We moved a few studios from the Toronto list to a list for London, Ontario. That caused Toronto to dip below Chicago.

  • Marie

    Afaik, Los Angeles is #1 and Montreal is #2 when it comes to most AAA studios. In Montreal there are about 6 companies working on AAA brands: Ubisoft Montreal, Warner Brothers Montreal, Eidos Montreal, Square Enix Montreal, BioWare, Behavior.

  • Chris

    There are more video game jobs in Montreal than Toronto.

    In reality, there are 16 500 video game jobs in Canada and 9000 of them are located in the province of Québec (the majority of them in Montreal). In fact Québec has the third biggest video game industry in the world after California and Japan.

    Ontario has only between 2000 and 2500 job currently.

    So your table is incorrect. Montreal should be higher than Toronto and near the top.

  • Paul Teall

    Updated the headcount for Ubisoft Toronto (they’re up to 350), and that pushed Toronto ahead of NYC.

  • MaxPlatypus

    Please do

  • Mari Landgrebe

    How often is this list updated? I don’t see a timestamp and the comments are relatively old.

  • Paul Teall

    Pretty frequently, actually. The city pages themselves are updated whenever I get a tip about a new or closed studio, and then I’ll update the counts on this page after that.

  • Tsubasa

    Montreal is higher than Toronto, the list is reverse

  • Russel Roneldo

    My business partners were looking for DS-82 yesterday and learned about an online platform that hosts lots of fillable forms . If others need DS-82 too , here’s