Earlier this month, London-based video game testing company Testronic announced it will be opening an office in January at 935 Gravier Street in downtown New Orleans. Even though grand opening events are still weeks away, the tech company has begun building out a roughly 15,000 square-foot office space and is interviewing to fill 150 quality assurance jobs.
In North America, the video game industry is mostly based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Montreal. Testronic chose to open its new location in New Orleans instead thanks to a nearly three-year campaign from local business boosters intent on growing the city’s technology industry.
Grady Fitzpatrick, the senior vice president of business development at Greater New Orleans Inc., was leading the charge along with the teams at Louisiana Economic Development and the New Orleans Business Alliance. The sales pitch included the state’s 25 percent tax incentive for software companies along with the city’s availability of talent, low cost of doing business and the new British Airways nonstop flight between Heathrow and MSY.
“We’re at least 30 percent less expensive than San Francisco plus the tax incentives so it’ll be 50 percent cheaper for them to do business here,” said Fitzpatrick, who also had to convince the video game makers themselves that New Orleans is a good investment.
“Sometimes the perception of New Orleans is that it’s just a party city,” he said. “Testronic is a service provider so we had to convince the people they’re testing games for that we’re a good spot.”
Fitzpatrick said the great part about the project is that the QA jobs are entry level but they can be the starting point for a career in the industry.
“Yes they literally put people in a room and have them play games,” he said. “But they’re not just playing for fun. They’re recording and cataloging glitches. They have to think about how consumers would be playing the game.
“You need passion and interest in games and some technical aptitude but it gets these young people into the gaming business and it’s a [pathway] to managing QA facilities or becoming project managers and producers in the game world.”
Testronic, which also has facilities in Los Angeles, the United Kingdom, Poland and Thailand, joins two video game makers with offices in New Orleans. inXile Entertainment, on Oak Street, is known for “Wasteland” and “The Bard’s Tale” series. The company was bought by Microsoft in 2018. High Voltage Software (downtown on St. Charles Avenue) makes “Lego Racers,” “Hunter: The Reckoning” and “The Conduit.” Each company employs approximately 35-40 employees.
Annual video game industry revenue reached a new peak of $43.8 billion in 2018, according to trade groups. For several years, the industry has bragged that it earns more revenue than the film and music industries combined.
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