Game Giant to Become Big Playa In LA

When the world’s biggest video game maker opens a state-of-the-art studio in Los Angeles that will be the modern day equivalent of what the brothers Warner did in Burbank in the 1930s, you know video games have achieved a central place in the show biz universe.

Redwood City-based Electronic Arts announced yesterday it would soon move into a $100 million, 245,000 square-foot studio in Playa Vista later this year. Eventually there will be 1000 workers at the West Los Angeles campus, according to John Batter, the EA exec who heads the company’s Los Angeles operations. Currently, EA has some 300 workers employed in the southwest region in Las Vegas, Irvine and Bel-Air, Calif. Batter stresses that the move to the center of the entertainment business has become vital as video games both look-and-feel more like movies and as revenues from video games becomes ever more important to the major studios.

The move should be a hey-day and major payday for the region’s animators, artists, modelers, digital texture artists and graphics engineers. With Sony Picture’s Imageworks, Digital Domain and Rhythm & Hues Studios, Inc. all literally a five-minute drive from EA’s campus, the competition for top talent will be even more intense than it is now.

The video game industry is now a $25 billion global business and the $7 billion-plus revenue the biz generates in the U.S. now tops the box office revenues of the film business. EA’s annual revenues last year topped $2.5 billion.