Victoria gaming firm Kixeye names new CEO

Victoria-based gaming studio Kixeye has named Colin How its new chief executive, a move that will allow former chief executive Clayton Stark to step into a role he was given more than a year ago.

With the addition of ­technology industry veteran How, Stark can now assume his position as chief technology officer for ­Kixeye’s ­parent ­company, ­Sweden-based ­Stillfront.

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Stillfront named Stark its group chief technology officer and a member of its executive management team last spring, but Stark remained head of the Kixeye studio until he found a replacement.

He finally found that person close to home.

Stark said it was important to have someone with roots in Victoria, headquarters of Kixeye, and who understands the Canadian software industry culture that stresses collaboration and support.

“Colin is a team builder first and foremost,” said Stark. “He has deep experience in optimizing businesses for growth, something he’s demonstrated over the 25 years I’ve known him.”

How said the job is something of dream, as it would be for ­anyone who grew up playing video games.

“I now get to spend my working days delighting and entertaining people, that’s what I get to do now, and I have not been able to say that,” he said. “I have always really wanted to work in the entertainment industry and this is a lifetime opportunity that has surfaced here.”

He pointed out Stark is renowned for hiring the best people he can find and ­building strong teams so he knew he would be walking into a highly talented group poised for ­success.

“That was a huge factor, having a great group of people is a big difference maker,” How said, noting his job is to focus on growing, building and optimizing the company.

He said he will have to adjust to growing a company with strong financial backing as he has years of experience re-tooling and saving companies from the verge.

Kixeye was purchased in 2019 by Stillfront, a global conglomerate of gaming studios focused on free-to-play online strategy games, in a deal worth $120 million US.

“Having a CEO dedicated only to Kixeye will ensure the growth of the team, it’s something it requires,” Stark said. “Kixeye is posed for growth. It’s been in Victoria for nine years and there’s a lot of work to be done to continue the story and that’s much better handled by someone who isn’t sharing their time across two jobs.”

Gaming has grown during the pandemic, as games offer an escape from downtime or being tied close to home.

Locally, Stark said the gaming studios are responsible for titles that earn in excess of $120 million in annual revenue, and that is only expected to increase.

For his part, Stark said he now gets to focus on his own dream job, chief technology officer of a company that is growing by leaps and bounds.

“The CTO role is my favourite place to be,” he said.

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