Greater New Orleans, Inc., the economic development alliance for the 10-parish Greater New Orleans region, joined Governor Bobby Jindal and Gameloft S.A. executives Samir El Agili and David Hague this week to announce that the company is establishing a new video game development studio in New Orleans.
Headquartered in Paris, Gameloft is one of the world’s largest publishers of digital and social games. The company will create 146 jobs during the next decade, with an average salary of $69,000, plus benefits.
The new Gameloft studio in New Orleans is the result of a yearlong coordinated effort among GNO, Inc., Louisiana Economic Development (LED), New Orleans Business Alliance, and numerous other local partners. The organizations assisted Gameloft in numerous areas, including talent recruitment, incentives, commercial real estate options, and integration into the regional community. Due in part to these efforts, Gameloft chose New Orleans over several traditional technology hubs throughout the United States.
“Gameloft’s decision to open a major studio in Greater New Orleans is an emphatic validation of the potential for software development in our region,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of GNO, Inc. “Further, it demonstrates the unprecedented effectiveness of the partnership that exists between the State of Louisiana, GNO, Inc., and our local partners. Gameloft was a team effort, and we can expect many more victories together.”
Recognized as the 2011 Developer of the Year for mobile games by PocketGamer, a U.K.-based publication that tracks the industry, Gameloft operates more than two dozen studios worldwide and employs approximately 4,000 people.
“Gameloft’s decision to establish a major new development studio in New Orleans is one of the most exciting project wins in Louisiana’s recent track record of growing digital media projects,” said Gov. Bobby Jindal. “We’re excited to bring one of the world’s leading publishers of digital and social games to our state, and we’re particularly excited that our young people in New Orleans no longer have to look beyond our state’s borders to find some of the most exciting career opportunities in the world.”
In recent years, the Greater New Orleans area has consistently ranked among the top locations for digital media companies. From major developers looking to expand or relocate to startups and entrepreneurs, the region is cementing its reputation as a hotbed of innovation.
“Bringing in a major international competitor like Gameloft is a win for New Orleans,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “The addition of these high-paying, cutting-edge jobs shows the growing confidence in our workforce and continues our recent economic momentum. New Orleans’ digital media industry, with our tax incentives and entrepreneurial spirit, is primed for continued growth.”
To secure the Gameloft studio project, LED offered the company performance-based grants of $1.5 million at the outset to cover the costs of establishing the studio; $2 million, payable in 10 annual installments, to offset leasing or financing costs for the studio; and $200,000 to defray relocation costs of setting up the New Orleans operation.
“As we seek to expand our presence in the U.S. we are looking for the most talented gaming professionals to help us maintain our position as an industry leader in digital and social games,” said Samir El Agili, general studio manager for the U.S. and Latin America at Gameloft. “New Orleans presents the perfect opportunity to not only draw from a rich talent pool, but to incorporate the unique and world-class culture in which the studio resides into our own as well.”
The company examined a number of major markets in the U.S. as possible sites for this game studio, but New Orleans emerged as the front-runner and the final choice based on several factors, including:
The most aggressive digital media incentive program in the country
Low costs of doing business
The unique culture of Greater New Orleans
Local, regional, and statewide leadership committed to business development
The availability of creative talent in the area and an ability to attract more talent
“Time and again, the value of Louisiana FastStart for prospective employers has risen to the top ranks of reasons why companies choose to expand or relocate to Louisiana,” said LED Secretary Stephen Moret. “Gameloft certainly is no exception, and we’re delighted that we could prove to this leading game development company, as we have to businesses in many other sectors, that Louisiana truly can deliver a talented, ready, and capable workforce from day one.”
GNO, Inc. partnered with Louisiana FastStart—ranked as the number one workforce development solution in the U.S.—to create a job recruitment website for Gameloft. In the span of two months, the site, aided by an aggressive social media campaign, attracted approximately 700 qualified applicants, 60,000 page views, and nearly 2 million impressions.
“Working in partnership with LED and GNO, Inc., it is our intent to position New Orleans as a viable hub for companies at the bleeding edge of innovation in social media, mobile content, and new forms of entertainment,” said Rodrick Miller, CEO of New Orleans Business Alliance. “Gameloft’s decision to establish their studio here in Orleans Parish speaks to the dynamism and creativity of the ‘new’ New Orleans and the scale of opportunity for job creation in the digital entertainment arena.”