The census has discovered a 12 percent year on year increase in U.S. employees, with 44,400 now working in the industry in America, up significantly from 39,700 in 2007. Canadian companies also saw an increase in staffing and number of studios, with total employees up around 17 percent - to 9,500 from 8,100. In total, the North American game industry increased in size 13 percent, from 47,800 to 53,900 staffers.
Some of the North American increase appears to relate to a filling-out of major next-gen game staffing, but much is due to the continued funding for MMOs and online worlds. Thanks to the success of products such as World of Warcraft and a continued growth in free-to-play game worlds, venture capital funding into game-related online companies has increased significantly.
While the effects of the current financial crisis and credit crunch could manifest itself in the longer-term, there are no current signs of it in the aggregate numbers of people employed in game-related sectors. In fact, there is still much vibrancy, and almost 48 percent - around 21,200 - of those working in the game industry in the U.S. do so in California – according to Game Developer Research’s estimates. Washington is the second most-popular state for game employment, with over 4,700 employees, and Texas is third with 3,300.
In total, seven states (California, Washington, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Florida) have more than 1,000 game professionals working in them, with North Carolina and Maryland close behind.
Not included in the current Census estimate are game tools companies, game contracting/services companies, external PR, marketing, legal, and other business services, and liaison or licensing divisions at larger media companies. Game Developer Research putatively puts this figure at around 18,000 across North America.
The Census report lists more than 650 companies alphabetically by U.S. state and Canadian province, along with generalized contact addresses, website information, estimates of employee numbers and details on their market specialties (from casual gaming, online gaming, mobile gaming and serious gaming to PC, handheld or console gaming). The report is intended to be a valuable tool for game industry trendwatchers, contractors, service companies, and other entities wanting to acquire accurate information to reach out to the North American game market as a whole.
“We’re delighted to present our second Census report, showing a notable increase in the amount of professionals employed in the game industry. With industry revenues at an all-time high, we believe that we’ll continue to see a vibrant market for those employed in the art and science of gaming.” said Simon Carless, publisher of Game Developer Magazine and director of Game Developer Research.