Best Cities for Video Game Development Jobs

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This article is part of our Video Game Job Hunt Guide. Read the full guide to learn how to write a strong resume, build a winning portfolio, ace your job interviews and more.

Video game developers walking through a Japanese city

Once you open your mind, there’s no telling where your video game career might take you.

If you’re looking for a new job making video games, I hope you’re thinking seriously about which cities around the world to include in your search.

Why? Because although there are over 2,000 game development studios around the world, not all cities are created equal. Some stand clearly apart from the rest when it comes to game development. They’re known as “game development hotbeds” because they contain more game dev studios – and more game jobs – than any others.

Wherever you happen to live right now, you’ll want to consider moving to a video game development hotbed. In fact, the city where you find your next job might be the most important decision you make in your entire career. Here’s why.

Tip: type any job title, keywords, company, or location

Why move to a game development hotbed?

Why move to a rain-soaked city like Seattle, Washington, when you could work at a game dev studio in a sunny beach town like Tampa, Florida?

The answer is, because Tampa is home to just 3 game studios, while Seattle is bursting at the seams with over 30 game studios. (Seattle is also brimming with hundreds of delicious teriyaki shops, but that’s beside the point.)

There are a number of good reasons why you’d want to live and work in a game dev hotbed city:

  • Career security. Notice that I didn’t say job security. The video game industry can be volatile, and layoffs at any game studio could happen without notice, so job security isn’t always high. But when you live in a city that has a dozen or more other game studios, it’s faster and easier to get a new job if you do get laid off. Developers in hotbed cities often get hired at new jobs within days of a layoff, sometimes without even having to apply. Now that’s career security.
  • Concentration of talent. Because hotbed cities have a lot of game jobs, they attract hundreds of highly talented developers. What does that mean for you? It means that, especially if you’re new to the industry, you’ll get to work with – and learn from – some of the most talented developers in the world.
  • Size fuels growth. When a group of people start thinking about where to open a new game studio, one of their top considerations is the ability to easily find experienced and talented people to hire. Game dev hotbeds have more developers than anywhere else, so it’s common for new dev studios to be started in a hotbed city. That means more job opportunities for you.

Top countries in the world for game development jobs

While some cities have more game jobs than others, some of those hotbed cities are concentrated in particular countries. Here’s a chart showing some of the top countries for game development studios in the world.

Top countries in the World for game development, based on number of game developers or developers/publishers: United States, England, Canada, Japan, Germany, Poland, Sweden, France, Spain, Australia, Netherlands.

Top countries in the World for game development, based on number of game developers or developers/publishers

You can see that while the top game development country by far is the United States, the countries of England, Canada and Japan are also chock full of game development companies. Even the Netherlands, at #11 on the list, weighs in at a hefty 49 game studios.

Most of the top game dev countries are in North America and Europe, so it looks to be worth considering a move if you’re outside of those regions if you want to be in a hotbed. Let’s take a look at the top game dev cities in the top game dev countries in the world.

Top game development cities in the United States

Top game development cities in the United States, based on number of game developers and developers/publishers: San Francisco, Austin, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Santa Monica, Bellevue, Irvine, Portland.

Top game development cities in the United States, based on number of game developers and developers/publishers

If you want to work in the United States, the West Coast is clearly a good place to look for game jobs. California alone offers nearly 100 game studios, and if you combine Seattle and its suburb of Bellevue, then Washington State comes in at 44 hotbed studios on par with Texas (apparently, Austin really is keeping Texas weird.) Oregon State offers 22 studios, Illinois represents for the Midwest at 19 studios, and New York pulls weight for the East Coast with its 16 studios.

Top game development cities in England

Top game development cities in England, based on number of game developers and developers/publishers: London, Guildford, Brighton, Cambridge, Liverpool, Lemington Spa, Leeds.

Top game development cities in England, based on number of game developers and developers/publishers

As with many things English, it’s impossible to overlook the power of London, which is England’s mega-hotbed with 45 game development studios. But from there, the island is your oyster with choices from Leeds in the north to Brighton on the southern coast. Why not explore? If you end up working late, the doner kebab is plentiful.

Top game development cities in Canada

Top game development cities in Canada, based on number of game developers and developers/publishers: Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City.

Top game development cities in Canada, based on number of game developers and developers/publishers

For several years, Canada has offered healthy subsidies to entice technology companies to start or relocate “north of the border.” That brilliant economic strategy seems to have paid off, as Canada now sits at the #3 spot among countries with the most game development studios in the world. From Montreal, Ottowa, and Quebec City in the east, all the way to Vancouver lying 5,000 kilometers to the west, Canada offers over 100 video game studios located in hotbed cities. I do hope you like poutine.

Top game development cities in the World

The US, England and Canada have a lot to offer you for game jobs. But those are just the top countries for game dev studios – if we break things down purely by city instead of grouping by country, we find a large number of impressive game dev hotbed cities located all around the world.

Top game development cities in the World, based on number of game developers and developers/publishers: Tokyo, London, San Francisco, Austin, Montreal, Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver, Toronto, Paris, Seoul, Kiev, Brisbane, Chicago, Stockholm.

Top game development cities in the World, based on number of game developers and developers/publishers

Long famous for game development, Tokyo, Japan is a heavyweight with nearly 60 game companies including the likes of Bandai Namco, Konami, Hudson Soft, and Square Enix. Not to mention you’re only a few train stops away from Harajuku, where you’re welcome to rock your favorite video game cosplay 24/7.

Seoul, South Korea has become famous for its passionate and highly-skilled RTS athletes. So it’s no surprise that it’s a home to over 20 game studios including industry heavies like Ubisoft, Epic, Taito, and Blizzard. If you don’t usually care to go Gangnam style, you just might be into it after a plate of bulgogi and many little cups of soju.

You’ve got choices!

With even more options like Kiev, Stockholm, or Brisbane, there’s no excuse not to explore the world while still pursuing your game dev career in one of the best ways possible: by relocating to a game development hotbed.

The entire planet is your game world, and it’s time to level up.

Tip: type any job title, keywords, company, or location

List of top game development cities with over 10 studios

Since there are too many video game hotbed cities to fit in a cute little donut chart, here’s a table listing all the cities that are home to 10 or more game developer or game developer/publishing companies.

City # Game Development Studios
Tokyo 58
London 48
San Francisco 46
Austin 44
Montreal 40
Los Angeles 34
Seattle 32
Vancouver 29
Toronto 24
Paris 23
Seoul 22
Kiev 20
Brisbane 19
Chicago 19
Stockholm 19
Moscow 17
Singapore 17
Copenhagen 16
New York City 16
Shanghai 16
Warsaw 16
Madrid 15
Santa Monica 15
Barcelona 14
Melbourne 14
Bellevue 12
Guildford 12
Utrecht 12
Dundee 11
Hamburg 11
Irvine 11
Portland 11
Berlin 10
Cambridge 10
Helsinki 10
Istanbul 10
Krakow 10
Osaka 10
Prague 10
Redmond 10
San Diego 10
Sao Paulo 10

To assemble these charts, I used raw data from the comprehensive crowd-sourced database at GameDevMap.com and collated by the various dimensions using pivot tables in Microsoft Excel. Thanks so much to GameDevMap for providing such an excellent data source for job-hunting game developers around the world. Please visit GameDevMap.com to explore game studios and publishers from an interactive map-based interface.

Photo: Sira Anamwong / freedigitalphotos.net

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40 comments on “Best Cities for Video Game Development Jobs
  1. Raja Biswas says:

    Thanks a lot for this amazing article.. It’s great to see the list of studios country wise and city wise. I’m from India and currently a student. I’ll probably move to U.S after working for 3-4 years in India, since most of the top studios requires experience. keep posting such great articles.

    Btw it would be great if you make such a post based on different game studios around the world. Thanks.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Thank you for the kind words, I’m glad the article has been helpful. And thank you for the suggestion for a new article!

      • Leandro says:

        Jason,

        We live in Brazil and my son is 14 years old. He told me that he wants to work at Games Industry. Do you know how can he study in USA to develop his future career in this area? Regards.

      • Jason W. Bay says:

        There are some specialized video games schools such as DigiPen Institute, and Full Sail. But there are also many other colleges and universities in the US that offer game-related degrees, or a non-game degree with a video game focus, which would also be good. There’s a partial list at the video game schools article.

    • MrFurious says:

      Cities on the West Coast are incredibly expensive to live in, as is New York. London, too, for that matter. It’s very difficult to move to any of those cities if you aren’t wealthy or don’t know anyone there to help you out.

      • Jason W. Bay says:

        You’re right that the cost of living can be much higher on the coasts. When you’re evaluating a job offer in a different city, it’s always a good idea to use an online cost-of-living calculator to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. (I like the one at Payscale.com)

  2. Chris B says:

    Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Irvine are all essentially the same place. People regularly take jobs in any of those three locales while living in “LA”.

  3. Gordon Walton says:

    What was the size criteria for being considered a game studio in your data? Great topic btw!

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Gordon, I don’t believe there’s any “official” size criteria – the data from Gamedevmap is community-driven and crowdsourced, so some of the studios are enormous and some are small indie shops. Thank you for the kind words!

  4. Giselle says:

    The dataset you refer to is incomplete and out of date. For example, many of the studios listed in Brisbane have been closed for a while.

    It would be great to have a bird’s eye view of the industry, but I’m not sure where you would source reliable data on it from.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Giselle, game studios are maddeningly difficult to track because they can come and go so frequently. The raw data was sourced by GameDevMap.com – they seem to work hard to collect it and keep it up to date, but it can be hard to keep up with all the changes.

  5. Richard B says:

    Fascinating, thanks for this article.
    Can you provide a sense of the number of actual development jobs within each country and/or city? Even if only approximate, knowing whether a city had 100 studios each with only 5 employees, versus a city with only 10 studios each with 1500 employees; could give a very different answer to “best cities for video game development jobs”. That said I do understand the merits of having a large number of studios within one city. Any data you have would be hugely welcome.

  6. Sean McDonald says:

    As Chris B. pointed out, while this article is great information for artists looking to move, it does misinform on Seattle’s bustling market by differentiating its suburbs. Redmond, Bellevue and Kirkland are all part of Seattle’s suburbs, and are only separated by about 12 miles of driving. It also feels like this is geared more towards large studios, as there’s a lot of indie studios here too.

    http://www.gamedevmap.com/index.php?location=Seattle

    There’s closer to 100 game companies here people can work at in our industry, and this doesn’t even include the ones that haven’t registered with Gamedevmap. Fwiw, I moved to Seattle from Nashville to work in the game industry. It’s a fantastic city, and one of the least expensive on the list for locations with 30+ studios 😉

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Sean, drawing lines between adjacent municipalities can always be a debate – I’d probably opt to lump Seattle’s east side together with Seattle, but then again I know many devs who live in Seattle and wouldn’t dream of commuting over 520 every day! :/

  7. Tronster says:

    There is a significant amount of data missing from gamedevmap for Baltimore; including some studios that have been around for 10+ years!
    Studios not on that list: Amtote, Firaxis Games (2k), Zenimax (Bethesda), Breakaway Games, Oxcide (Stardock), Big Huge Games, Sparkypants, Unit-E, and a handful of small (1-3 person) indie studios.

    Also Cie is not a Baltimore company (nor does it seem to be doing much with games). I wonder how accurate this data set is for other cities.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Tronster, the data from Gamedevmap is generally up-to-date, but it is a community-driven crowdsourced data set so there are bound to be gaps. Thank you for that updated info on Baltimore’s game industry!

  8. Tronster says:

    …woops, forgot: Wargaming has a studio in Baltimore too (formally Day 1 Studios).

  9. Emma Purvey says:

    It’s a great article Jason and I’m sure really useful for those starting out in their careers. It’s disappointing though that you focused on England studios in your breakdown when Scotland as part of the UK has such a significant amount of game development happening. Specifically in Dundee at the last count there were over 40 studios http://scottishgames.net/companydirectory/
    This stretches from 1 to 2 man studios up to high growth studios like Outplay with over 80 developers.
    In line with other comments on the cost of living, Dundee offers amazing value for money when you are starting out in your career. It is also a buzzing game hub with tech meet up’s and a close knit development community which can be invaluable at this stage in your career.

  10. Joga says:

    Good post and thanks for sharing. There are many studios in India too. They don’t come forward because they do outsourcing for the major reputed companies over the globe. 🙂

  11. Jacque Choi says:

    GameDevMap is insanely outdated.

    This is a bit of a closer view of the game developers in Montreal (although I see outsourcing houses, and defunct companies listed):
    http://www.mtlgs.ca/studios/

    According to that list there are 156 Developers in Montreal alone. But included are ones with 2 guys in a basement making games.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Jacque, any “comprehensive” list of game studios will get somewhat out of date after just a few months, it’s tough to keep up with all the changes. Thank you for the link to the Canadian studios, that’s really helpful.

  12. Samantha Brown says:

    Hi, my husband is currently studying to become an Art and Animator in the gaming industry. We live in England, but realistically we would like to move to the US in 3-5 years down the line to have better/bigger opportunities. We have already started to plan this journey, but we are unsure what steps to take first…
    Can you suggest of any specific company or organisation in the US which could be able to advise what’s our best choices to make this dream come true?

    P.S. Great info, super interesting 🙂

    Kind regards,
    S. Brown

  13. Jeff says:

    You didn’t do your homework where’s the Phillipines? One of the oldest long standing capitols of animation. The government has funded schools and cyber centers. 65 colleges and universities have animation classes and there are dozens of studios there.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Jeff, it’s great to hear that the Philippines has so many game-related schools and game studios. As mentioned in the footnote, I used crowdsourced data from GameDevMap.com. We rely on everybody to build out that database, so if you have a little time, you could really help the community by adding the Philippines game studios to the data set at GameDevMap.com and it will show up next time I update this article. Thank you!

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      It doesn’t look like either data source is comprehensive and up-to-date (it’s a tough industry to keep up with!), but definitely lots of good info there. Thank you for the link.

  14. Jeff Robbins says:

    No mention of Boston which has 50+? I don’t see a place on gamedevmap.com to contribute.

    http://www.bostonpostmortem.org/boston-area-game-companies/

  15. Kevin says:

    This is a really cool article. However, it can be misleading since there can be game studios in different cities but in the same metropolitan area. The Dallas/Fort Worth area has at least 30 game studios on gamedevmap, for example, but Dallas not on a list in this article. So it still may be viable to move to a different city that is not a hotbed if you do not mind commuting to the city over where the game studio is. Those are just my 2 cents to add to help 🙂

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Kevin, thanks for your comment. It’s always a grey area when you start breaking data down by “city” because it can look different depending on whether you’re including just the official city limits, or the “greater metropolitan area,” whether or not suburbs are included, etc. This article isn’t meant to be a definitive list of “the only places you should consider,” because you’re right that there are other areas that have many game studios, like Dallas/Fort Worth.

  16. lokesh chopade says:

    hello,
    i am precisely reading all your posts a d let me tell you they are awesome, i have a request for you. hope you pay your attention towards this, As i am from india. can you just help out in this country by your stats and job locations and all.
    please its a kinds request

    best regards,
    lokesh

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Lokesh, I don’t have a good source for that sort of information for India, but if I find one then I’ll add it to this article because there are many game developers growing in India. Thank you for your comment!

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