March 13 2023

Capital Region Digital Gaming Cluster Stays 500 Strong, with New GameDev Studios



  • 26 studios
  • 511 workers
  • Large studio employment up to 470 with approx.16% working remotely outside NYS
  • New studios: Rocket Science, MeDKit, Ironsilk Games
  • 380 students in game design & development programs – up 8%
  • 448 students playing in national collegiate esports leagues – up 30%


Video game development continues to be a 500-strong force in the Capital Region, with studios planning to add dozens of more jobs over the next 12 months. Additionally, new incubators and a recently launched New York State tax credit program targeting the industry promise to foster the growth of more studios, according to the Center for Economic Growth’s sixth annual Capital Region Digital Gaming Cluster survey.


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Cluster Performance

As of February 2023, the eight-county region had 511 workers at 26 digital gaming studios. That included 470 employees at eight large studios (>10 employees). Approximately 16 percent of those employees worked remotely outside New York State. There were an additional 41 workers at 18 indie studios (<10 employees, solo developers, interns, freelancers, volunteers). Over the year, the cluster’s overall size and large studio employment growth was flat.

While several large studios experienced robust employment growth over the year, their gains were partially overshadowed by the loss of Krafton’s PUBG Madglory studio in Saratoga Springs. However, PUBG MadGlory’s founder and one of its former software engineers have established two new, rapidly growing large studios in the Capital Region: Rocket Science and Rushdown Studios.

“2022 was transition year with many gaming firms sunsetting product lines, realigning facilities, and rebalancing onsite vs remote workforce. In the face of these transitions, the Capital Region has seen relative stability with sustained growth of several incumbents, and a reinvestment in the pipeline for future products.  We can expect steady growth in 2023 as we build towards greater product output in future years,” said Velan Studios President Guha Bala.

Eleven studios reported plans to hire more workers over the next 12 months. A new digital gaming incubator being developed alongside Rocket Science’s new headquarters in Glenville, also promises to accelerate the cluster’s growth. The Capital District Gaming Studio will provide space for indie game developers. In collaboration with the University at Albany and SUNY Schenectady, the incubator will also serve as a training facility for students, novices and professionals, who can learn game development skills and receive professional certifications.

“The Capital Region offers a vibrant tech community, proximity to renowned universities, and a great standard of living compared to other major tech hubs. These advantages, combined with new tax incentives and business-friendly policies, make it an attractive location for game developers looking to establish or expand their studio,” said Brian Corrigan, Rocket Science’s co-founder and chief scientist.



Major 2023 releases involving local studios include Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo IV (June 6), an action role-playing game, and Velan StudiosHot Wheels: Rift Rally (March 14), a mixed reality racer. Another new release is 1st Playable Productions’  Yum Yum Cookstar, a cooking game experience.


Velan Studios’ Hot Wheels: Rift Rally (left) and Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo IV (right).

New games from local indie studios include a mobile social digital therapeutic app for neurodivergent children, Emotion Adventure, developed by MeDKit and currently undergoing Institutional Review Board in South Korea. Pine Drake Games in Troy released The Department of the Devil, a first-person escape room game in which users must escape from The Devil’s office and get out of hell. Nonage in Clifton Park also released final versions of both PowerBots Builders and PowerBots RETRO. Ironsilk Games, also in Troy, released an alpha version of Beats to Kill to, a competitive third-person shooter/rhythm game set to rave bangers.

Nonage’s PowerBots Builders

“Getting started, we spent a lot of time thinking about where we should establish our headquarters. There were a lot of benefits to several cities, but none better than being in the Capital Region of New York, with the students coming out of RPI, density of other developers, and grant opportunities provided by the state. Looking back, we’ve come so much further than we would’ve someplace else, and we’re still expecting big things,” said Ironsilk Community Director Troy Mundschenk.

“The New York Capital Region is a hotbed of innovation and creativity, making it the perfect location to start a new digital gaming studio. With RPI’s cutting-edge game design courses and the New York Upstate program, the region is home to a diverse and talented pool of game developers, designers, and engineers. We’re excited to be part of this vibrant community and look forward to contributing to its growth and success,” said MedKit founder Bryan Kim, a Ph.D student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS).


STUDIO Highlights


Big large studio news from the past year and for the year ahead includes:


Blizzard Albany, the region’s largest studio, has supported the remastering of the Diablo game series, and Diablo IV is scheduled to launch in June of 2023. Last December, quality assurance testers unionized and formed the Game Workers Alliance (GWA) Albany, under the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

Velan self-published Knockout City, with a free-to-play launch. The Troy studio built out its direct publishing capabilities, including marketing, partner management, and analytics. On March 14, Velan released its first fully self-published title, Hot Wheels: Rift Rally, for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and iOS device.

This Troy studio launched Yum Yum Cookstar, a cooking game experience for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

Wolfjaw in Troy has doubled its revenue each year over the past several years and is on track to continue that trend.   

Gaming became the biggest sector at Jahnel Group, accounting for 18.6 percent of revenues. Over the next 12 months, the Schenectady software firm wants to increase its footprint in the gaming space by 50 percent.

Rocket Science announced it will establish a $1.6 million headquarters in Glenville. Supported by up to $1.269 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits, Rocket Science will create 30 jobs. The startup also opened a second location in Wales and plans to open a third location over the next 12 months.

This Ballston Spa studio’s employment quintupled over the year, and it partnered with more than 10 game studios. Over the next 12 months, Rushdown plans to double in size and continue to grow its number of partnerships, including taking on larger co-development game projects. The studio will set up a physical office headquarters in the Capital Region.

This solo Delmar studio continued development on its released game Katana ZERO and the upcoming mobile game Pocket Squirrel. Over the next 12 months Askiisoft plans to complete these two projects.

MeDKit is a new studio in Troy founded by an RPI doctoral

student. The studio recently published a mobile social digital therapeutic app for neurodivergent children. While the studio is currently based in Seoul with a global remote team of developers, MeDKit’s founder hopes to build a presence in the Capital Region.

This four-year-old Troy studio commenced shipment of Open Spaces SE on Steam. Open Spaces SE was featured in the Gender Constellation Bundle from Game Dev Galaxy on Itch.  Over the next 12 month, Queenship expects to finish the narrative for its next project, The Shadowcross, and a substantial amount of the soundtrack and engine work. The studio expects to complete its Steam ship of Open Spaces SE by April. 

This Troy studio posted two new YouTube videos and supported customers who use the NPC Populator in the Unity Asset Store. Over the next 12 months Clockwork plans to add new content on YouTube.

Ironsilk in Troy onboarded its first interns and secured a contract with a client, providing the studio with consistent income. Over the next 12 months, the studio expects to publish at least one project and expects to secure a deal with a publisher. It separately plans to release a final version of Beats to Kill to, a competitive third-person shooter/rhythm game set to rave bangers.

Pine Drake Games in Troy last fall released on Steam and Itch The Department of the Devil, a first-person escape room game in which users must escape from The Devil’s office and get out of hell.

ToothPike in Niskayuna released the public alpha version of its next project, which is a tool for developers and students who want to better understand the Steam store market and improve their skills at recognizing commercially viable projects. Alongside continued updates, Toothpike is looking to launch the next phase of the project to improve on the meta-analysis and guidance offered by the tool.

This Schenectady studio closed a major deal in 2022: Catapult’s de-escalation training tool VRPD will be used by the Schenectady Police Department for at least two years. The studio plans to hold community conversations in Albany and Saratoga to get feedback on VRPD from the community and police. Catapult hopes to get VRPD in more police stations in the next year.

This Troy studio released its augmented reality app, Algae Bloom Dynamics, on the Google Play Store. Over the next 12 months Ecoresilience plans for the global digital release of The Aquatic Messenger VR, a large-scale immersive arts/science/ecological time-travel exploration game for multiple virtual reality platforms, including Oculus Quest 2 (Meta), and other emerging virtual reality hardware.

Aeronauts in Troy reached over 70,000 players on Tempo (on Steam). The studio prototyped several innovative arcades that may be iterated on in the future. Tempo won the RPI GameFest 2022 award for “Excellence In Audio.” Tempo was also showcased by The International Game Developers Association. Within the next 12 months, Aeronauts expects to release its next arcade title, showcase a public playable build of a project it’s been working on for the last year, and continue to support the growing Tempo community.

Nonage in Clifton Park released Release final versions of both PowerBots Builders and PowerBots Retro as well as MyWord on The studio completed a soft launch of the Nonage Hero Club subscription service and online DLC store. Hero Club subscribers exclusively have early access to Nonage’s next title: Make Believe. Over the next 12 months the studio plans to release more mini-games with user-generated content through its website.





Several Capital Region institutions and studios will participate in the first-ever New York State GDC Pavilion at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco from March 20 to 24. Sponsors for the New York State GDC Pavilion will include New York University, Rochester Institute of Technology, RPI, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, New York City Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment (MOME), Empire State Development, 1st Playable Productions, Wolfjaw Studios, Velan Studios, Geopipe, Polyhedron Productions, and Rushdown Studios.


Talent Pipeline

Over the year, the number of secondary and postsecondary students enrolled in game development programs in the Capital Region has increased by 8 percent to 380. That included 272 postsecondary and 102 secondary students.

Last fall, the University at Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) launched a new informatics minor in game design and development. The rollout of the minor came one year after UAlbany introduced its Game Design & Development Concentration bachelor’s of science, four-year program.

Over the past 12 months, RPI’s GSAS has opened a motion capture studio for students in game design and animation and installed an eight-channel ambisonics surround audio system for students working with spatialized audio. The university also graduated its second cohort of masters’ students in critical game design. US News & World Report ranked GSAS as the ninth Best Undergrad Game Design Program, and the Princeton Review ranked it as having the 18th Best Graduate Game Design Program.

GameFest, RPI’s annual celebration of student game designers from around the Northeast, will return in-person on April 28 and 29 at the university’s EMPAC Center and the Tech Valley Center of Gravity in Troy. RPI also anticipates growth in entrepreneurship activity with a newly designated RPI Incubator.

At the secondary level, Questar III recently launched a Gaming & Multimedia program at its Troy technical school and will be expanding it to the Hudson center next school year. Capital Region BOCES also relocated Game Design and Implementation program – which reached record enrollment – to a larger space at the new Career & Technical Education Center in Colonie.



UAlbany esports has grown to become one of the largest in the nation, and the university recently launched its first eSports scholarships this Fall: eSports scholarships. UAlbany eSports is on pace to compete in over 1,000 official games this year, with 522 in the fall semester. There are 448 students playing in national collegiate esports leagues. That is a 30 percent increase from a year earlier.



1 CEG conducted this survey in January and February 2023 with 18 of 26 known active studios responding. When possible, for studios from which responses could not be obtained, CEG estimated their number of workers by tallying people listed on LinkedIn as currently working for them. The threshold for “large studios” was changed from 12 to 10 employees to better reflect studios with full-time employees.

Funding Partners