American Videogame Maker EA Creates 300 New Jobs In Ireland

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American videogame maker Electronic Arts said 18 September 2012 that it is adding 300 jobs at its European customer support center in Galway, Ireland.

The move was seen as another positive development for Ireland’s videogame and interactive business.

Eyre Square, Galway, Ireland

Eyre Square, Galway, Ireland

The EA center in Galway opened a year ago and currently employs 400 people.

“Ireland has won and won handsomely despite the romancing of a lot of cities and countries worldwide,” Peter Moore, Electronic Arts chief operating officer told the Financial Times on Tuesday.

“Galway met all of our criteria: the availability of a young educated workforce; an attractive lifestyle in the city for young workers; our ability to get in and train people; and government support for the jobs,” he said.

Galway prevailed over cities in Britain, Europe and the U.S. to win the EA jobs.

“The EA European Customer Experience Centre is the focal point of our strategy to serve gamers on a global basis. In today’s fast-moving digital environment, we need to engage with our worldwide customer base on a 24/7 basis, across all of EA’s games and services and in multiple languages,” Moore said in a statement announcing the investment. “Galway’s mix of technology infrastructure and talent availability, combined with a pro-business environment, will help us expand on our existing foundation here. We’re proud to be part of Ireland’s growth into cutting edge digital industries.”

Ireland’s win is seen as the UK’s loss. The UK has been trying to attract videogame makers with the promise of tax breaks starting in 2013.

However, the criteria for what games will qualify for tax breaks is still under discussion and it has been unclear whether the incentives will be enough for large companies like EA.

Ireland’s government is seeking games company investment as one way to help it recover from an economic crisis. Ireland was forced into a €67.5bn bailout last year from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Ireland Tries Keeping Talent At Home

The move also helps keep Ireland’s valuable technical talent from being recruited to work overseas.

“EA is a key player amongst the cluster of global games and entertainment companies with operations in Ireland and today’s announcement clearly places Ireland at the center of EA’s international customer support strategy,” said Barry O’Leary, CEO of IDA Ireland, the nation’s industrial development agency.

“The news today is in keeping with one of the main targets of IDA’s strategy Horizon 2020; to increase further investment in the employment-intensive services sector,” he said. “This follows on from a number of significant investments in this sector in recent months.’’

About 2,000 Irish workers are currently employed in the online and video games business. Multinational videogame companies such as Zynga and Blizzard have invested in Ireland.

The Irish government’s goal is creating 2,500 new jobs in the interactive and digital media business by 2014.

The top 10 Internet companies have operation in Ireland. Ireland also has based about 100 pan­European multilingual support centers and a large talent pool to tap into, O’Leary told The Financial Times.

He added that rival cities such as London were more expensive than Ireland.

Ireland offers incentives such as its ultra low corporation tax rate of 12.5%, research and development tax breaks and the possibility of employment grants to companies willing to invest.

Electronic Arts center in Galway is expected to benefit from employment grants to support job creation.

Electronic Arts, publisher of the popular game Medal of Honor, owns PopCap Games, which employs about 100 people in Dublin. However, that operation may close after EA recently announced a strategic review of the office, according to published reports.

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