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Gree shuts down Vancouver studio

The shifting mobile market makes it tough to keep things going for the once-invincible Japanese giant, the company's Western COO writes.

Gree has shut down its Vancouver studio, which the Japanese mobile giant opened in 2012, at the height of its success.

The Western division's COO, Andrew Sheppard -- who joined Gree from Kabam less than a year ago -- has laid out his reasoning for the move in a lengthy blog post.

Essentially, Sheppard says that the shift to major mobile hits like Clash of Clans means that tighter focus on a smaller lineup is required to stand out, and that the company's resources were stretched. Consequently, all of the Gree Vancouver games have been cancelled alongside the studio's closure.

Gree Vancouver's studio head, Steve Lin, confirmed the move on Twitter and invited Vancouver studios looking to recruit former Gree staff to contact him directly for referrals.

Gree, as a whole, is not in rude health: The company was best-known in Japan for games for feature phones, and has struggled to make a success of native app games for smartphones. Its most recent quarterly results show large year-on-year revenue declines: ¥22 billion ($183 million) down from ¥31 billion ($258 million). The company has seen steady revenue declines in the current fiscal year, which is nothing new.

The company provided this statement to Gamasutra regarding the layoffs:

GREE International is shutting down our office in Vancouver, Canada and discontinuing the development of all mobile games from that studio. After evaluating market conditions, we have decided to focus our talent on building new gameplay within our biggest franchises and on elevating our commitment to service excellence. We are also preparing to invest in a new generation of mobile hits.

GREE International will continue to work with Canadian development partners to build and operate the best free-to-play games on the market. Our commitment to co-development and publishing continues.

Lastly, we are committed to supporting the members of our talented team in Vancouver in their search for their next opportunity. Should you be interested in meeting the team please contact us at Contact: [email protected].

A Gree spokesperson could not release specific numbers of affected staff.

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