News / Victoria

Victoria gamer looking to hire "rockstar" developers

When asked why Victoria is becoming a hotbed for technology and video game development, Clayton Stark has an answer that befits the city's scenic reputation.

"People want to kayak to work," he says.

The picturesque backdrop of Victoria's inner harbour is just one of the reasons Stark and his employer, Kixeye, are looking to set up shop in town. The Victoria-born developer and the San Francisco-based game company have located a spot in Bastion Square and are hoping to be up and running by January.

"I'm incredibly stoked," Stark says. "Working in this space and moving this space forward is really exciting for me."

Stark was the creator of Flock, a web browser that integrated social media services like Facebook into its interface. The company was bought by game giant Zynga in 2011, and Stark spent some time in California before moving to Kixeye.

Stark wouldn't comment on Zynga's declining stock price, or reports that other developers and executives are jumping ship from the company.

"I was done my job there," Starks says of Zynga. "It was time for me to move on and sink my teeth into something else."

Although Stark is diplomatic, his new employer has not pulled any punches when it comes to their rivals in the social game space. This summer, Kixeye released a profanity-laced recruiting video featuring CEO Will Harbin that poked fun at Zynga.

Rather than go after what he claims is Zynga's demographic of "middle aged women in Arkansas," Stark says Kixeye is making browser-based social games that appeal to "hardcore" gamers.

"It's not about clicking cows," Stark said, referencing Zynga's Farmville. "Technology has caught up to the point where we can deliver immersive games through the browser."

In addition to an existing relationship with Harbin, Stark says the opportunity to build a studio in Victoria was one of the reasons he decided to lend his services to Kixeye. He's aiming to hire 50 people in the coming months, and expects many of them will be from the capital region.

"There's quite a bit of talent available here. It's not as fished out as San Francisco," he says.

Although they've already received "many, many CVs," Stark says the downtown location of the new studio will be central to their recruiting efforts. He says it's close to other developers, including Microsoft, that have studios in the city and flush with plenty of dining and entertainment options.

"We want rock stars," he says. "And when you get rock stars, you have to treat them like rock stars."

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