Gameloft Studio Settles in New Orleans, Fuels A Growing Industry
By: Adriana Lopez | Forbes | 09/07/2012
Until recently, the only time there was any correlation between New Orleans and the video game industry was when the city was featured as one of the levels on Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 in 2004. Now, eight years later, New Orleans is at the forefront of video game development, putting the fun-loving city in competition with major gaming hotspots like Austin, San Francisco, Toronto, and Quebec. The most recent proof of that success is evidenced in last week’s release of mobile gaming app Cosmic Colony, the first full project created by Gameloft’s New Orleans studio.
Available for iOS and Android, the objective of the space-themed strategy game is to build a colony on a mysterious planet in outer space. The players can explore the planet, build an economy, and interact with friends, while overcoming barriers like fighting off space pirates in order to prosper. With surprising events and space missions, the mobile social game appeals to both children and adults.
Gameloft’s release of Cosmic Colony appropriately coincides with the first anniversary of the New Orleans studio, which is the second North American location for the leading global mobile game publisher. Courted by the city’s enticing assets and Louisiana’s generous tax incentive program, Gameloft was the first major game development studio to open in New Orleans, joining an impressive roster of large and small interactive digital media, production, and gaming studios that have opened throughout the state.
The birth of the video game industry has been heavily supported and encouraged by Louisiana’s state government and even the governor himself, who has enthusiastically expressed his pride in Gameloft New Orleans and the state’s growing industry. Governor Jindal added, “”We worked hard to show Gameloft that New Orleans and our state represent one of the leading opportunities for investment in the digital media sector.”
Louisiana boasts the strongest Digital Media Tax Incentive in the country, wooing both established and startup game studios to relocate to New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport. The industry-leading tax incentive program is two-fold, offering a 25% tax credit on qualified digital media production expenditures and a 35% tax credit on Louisiana resident labor expenditures. The release of Cosmic Colony is just one tangible example of the program’s success.
“The production of Cosmic Colony exemplifies the tremendous growth of the digital media industry in our region,” said Michael Hecht, President & CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “Our pro-business environment, competitive tax climate, and best-in-class incentives make the region a smart choice for both large and small digital media firms – and are why we were just voted #1 in the USA for digital media.”
Among other high rankings received for its strong business climate, Louisiana was recently named the top state for digital media performance by Business Facilities magazine, further validating the increasing opportunities available in the region. However, even with the growing pool of creative talent in the state, there were very few video game professionals living locally at the time that Gameloft began its recruiting process over a year ago.
“We knew that there wasn’t an established game industry in New Orleans so our strategy for the first 2-3 years relied heavily on bringing in out of state talent,” said Dave Hague, Studio Manager for Gameloft New Orleans, adding that about 75% of their current team is from out of state. “We have people in every department that were local before joining Gameloft. In the long term, however, we expect to be able to recruit employees directly from the local universities. “
In fact, both Hecht and Hague are currently working with local universities to develop curriculums that directly apply to the skilled work available in the fast-growing digital media industry. The newly launched Digital Media Education Center at Delgado Community College, for example, trains students in video game design and post-production film work in an effort develop an indigenous workforce and ensure a sustainable industry in New Orleans.
With the evident success from its first year, Gameloft has committed to further investing in New Orleans as they anticipate releasing several more projects within the next year. Gameloft New Orleans is expected to significantly increase the studio size and expand their team with more local talent with the help of local recruiting initiatives hosted by Louisiana Economic Development FastStart, the nation’s top state workforce training program.
According to Gameloft New Orleans, the studio has already received thousands of qualified candidates, consisting predominantly of local professionals and recent college graduates. The amount of talent and interest is encouraging for the continued success of the company, as well as for the prosperity of the industry and city’s economy.
Cosmic Colony is available now on both the App Store and Google Play.