EA Opening New Los Angeles Game Studio, WIll work on Star Wars Games
Electronic Arts fresh off announcing it cut 10% of its workforce to trim costs, is investing in a new Los Angeles studio for its Stockholm-based DICE game developer with the goal of poaching talent from rivals like Activision Blizzard.
The DICE unit, purchased by EA in the middle of the last decade, will be a key cog in the creation of a new series of Star Wars videogames. Walt Disney announced last week that it enlisted EA to make Star Wars games weeks after closing its LucasArts games division.
As DICE begins the initial phases of sketching out ideas for a new Star Wars game, it is in the process of opening a Los Angeles office this month to help with recruiting talent, General Manager Karl-Magnus Troedsson said in an interview at the Stockholm office.
"There is an extreme talent pool over that we want a part of," he said. "It’s no secret that our main competitor is there," referring to Activision’s Infinity Ward and Treyarch operations, which use Southern California studios to work on the popular Call of Duty game that outsells Battlefield.
While not divulging specific numbers, Mr. Troedsson said the DICE studio represents a significant investment with plans to add 60 staffers by the end of 2013. He said the firm is looking to add the best talent in the business for the venture, and that DICE needs to expand its wings following the success of the Battlefield franchise.
The new DICE studio comes on the heels of tough actions taken to slim down the wider EA operation. About 900 of the company’s 9,000 employees recently were cut in order to achieve a 20% operating margin.
Mr. Troedsson said DICE will strive to maintain its Nordic work environment, where managers are known to make decisions by consensus and employees are afforded long parental leaves to care for children.
DICE also expects that the opportunity to work on the next Star Wars games attract talent from rival firms. “People stood up and cheered, when I announced that we were working on Star Wars,” he said, indicating the same enthusiasm could be used in recruiting.
He said creators of the new Star Wars game are looking at either creating an entirely new experience or piggybacking on an older Star Wars game series.
Mr. Troedsson, who describes himself as a passionate gamer with an interest in motorcycles, said he is a fan of classic Star Wars games. “For me it’s a boys dream come to life, I’ve grown up with Star Wars.”
The new studio opened its doors recently, and has brought in some EA employees who worked on the Medal of Honor series, as well as outside talent.