Microsoft lays off employees at Vancouver studio

Microsoft Flight and Project Columbia teams let go in latest round of redundancies to hit Vancouver dev scene

Microsoft has apparently laid off 35 people at its Vancouver studio, ending development of Microsoft Flight and the Kinect interactive TV game, Project Columbia.

An anonymous source contacted Kotaku with the news that entire studio located at 840 Cambie St. had been closed and the project cancelled.

This was also posted on a Facebook page for Vancouver innovators, though Microsoft has since released a statement indicating that an unspecified number, though not all, of the studio's employees had been made redundant. All of the job losses were from the teams on Microsoft Flight and Project Columbia, an interactive TV project aimed at children.

"Microsoft Studios is always evaluating its portfolio of products to determine what is best for gamers, families and the company, and this decision was the result of the natural ebb and flow of our portfolio management," the statement read.

"Many factors were considered in the difficult decision to stop development on Microsoft Flight and Project Columbia, but we feel it will help us better align with our long-term goals and development plans."

This is yet another instance of a Vancouver-based studio shedding employees or closing entirely in recent months, including Radical Entertainment, Capcom Vancouver and Rockstar Vancouver.

In Rockstar's case, the employees were moved to its Toronto studio, where the tax breaks from the Ontario government are far more generous - 37.5 per cent versus Vancouver's 17.5 per cent.

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Latest comments (2)

Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises5 years ago
I'd love to see a followup story about where the people go after the layoffs. Mainly whether they stay in the province of British Columbia, and either startup their own game company, find work at another game studio within the province. Or do most leave the province, the games industry, or even both?

The answers would tell us just how effective tax breaks are at luring an industry to a new region, and keeping it there.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 5 years ago
A couple of issues here.

1) I am expecting quite a few traditional big team console studios to close this year, especially after gold masters ship for Q4 releases with no new work in sight. It is a rapidly declining market, the figures don't lie, so there is less money about to support jobs.

2) Canada paid a lot of taxpayers money to attract jobs, will they stay when the money runs out? Or will lots of Brit game development talent be making the long flight home? Here in sunny Silicon Spa we get no government money whatsoever and the industry in this town is booming with many devs recruiting.
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