EA games to create additional jobs in Austin

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Governor Rick Perry speaks at a press conference Monday in EA’s BioWare Austin campus. He and top executives of Electronic Arts confirmed that the company will be expanding operations in Austin with the intention of creating 300 jobs.

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

Electronic Arts, more commonly known as EA to gamers, announced Monday it will bring 300 jobs to the Austin area with the expansion of its EA Sports division.

The game developer, which already employs 450 people in Austin, will secure the services of 150 additional full-time employees and 150 contract workers.

During the official announcement Monday at EA’s Bioware division offices, Gov. Rick Perry said Texas is “the perfect place” for video game development to thrive.

“‘If it’s in the game, it’s in the game,’ and right now Texas is where the game is being played,” Perry said. “Much like the video gaming industry, our state is built on the foundation of competition.”

The Governor said “simple principles” characterize Texas’ business climate.

“Thanks to our low taxes, reasonable and predictable regulatory climate, fair legal system and skilled workforce we continue to attract companies from around the nation,“ Perry said. “It isn’t rocket science.”

He said these basic principles have made Texas the leader in job creation.

The video game industry currently draws $25 billion annually, mostly in the state of California.

“Texas is ready to compete for a bigger piece of that pie,” Perry said. “Our goal is to be the number one game developer in the nation.”

The Governor said higher education in the state attracts game developers. Twenty-one colleges in Texas currently offer game design degrees.

“Texas in general, and Austin in particular, has a young, hip, engaged and hungry population that understands the gaming community and wants to be a part of it,” Perry said.

In-game footage of NCAA Football 2012 was presented at the conference, with Perry playing quarterback for A&M. He drove the ball downfield against a Longhorn defense before throwing a sensational touchdown pass.

Because of EA’s coming expansion, the company will seek incentives from the Texas Film Commission. EA may also be eligible to receive incentives from the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program.

EA Games president Frank Gibeau said he is thankful for the business opportunities Perry has helped create in Texas.

“Perry has created a very pro-business environment,” Gibeau said. “It helps us to look to Austin as a long-term opportunity.”

EA employed 2,800 workers in California in 2007, but that number has now dropped to fewer than 1,700, Gibeau said to the Austin American-Statesman. A significant number of those positions have relocated to Texas, and Gibeau said Monday there is no shortage of their California staff that would happily move to Austin because of the culture, food and music.

Gibeau said the jobs being created will be “high-paying,” and able to support families by putting employees in “educated positions.”

Bruce Porter, chairman of the department of computer science, said technology companies growing in Austin such as EA are “great partners” for the department of computer science.

“They support our research programs and support our students with internships and careers,” Porter said.

The department has worked with EA before to offer students internships, but Porter said he thinks the opportunities are going to expand along with the company.

Porter said the department’s new game design and development curriculum will be a “nice fit” for preparing students to work for companies such as EA. The Daily Texan reported in April the program will start in spring 2013.

“This is a new curriculum that’s crossed three units: computer science, fine arts and communications,” Porter said. “It’s specifically designed for these careers in design and development.”