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In Focus: Ireland's Games Industry
Image: Wikimedia Commons
The news that video games developer PopCap is evaluating its Dublin office is likely to be greeted with surprise from many quarters, especially since the company announced a sequel to one of its biggest games, Plants vs Zombies, just this week.
News of the review was announced in a blog post by PopCap founder John Vechey, who also announced 50 job losses from its North American division. The company is wholly owned by publishing giant Electronic Arts and employs about 96 people at its offices on Pearse Street.
But there is some good news for the sector: according to the policy advisory board Forfás, employment in the games industry in Ireland has increased five-fold since 2004, with further room for growth. Their report from October of last year claimed that the country could see potential job gains of 2,500 by the end of 2014 across a range of activities, including games servicing and development.
A number of gaming’s biggest names have already set up a home here. We’ve compiled a list of some of them.
We start with Irish gaming’s biggest success story – Havok. Founded in the computer science department in Trinity College Dublin, the company has grown to become one of the world’s biggest providers of physics engines to games developers and movie studios. Havok Physics have been featured in some of the biggest video games of the past decade, as well as movies like The Matrix. The company was bought by Intel in 2007.
Demonware was founded in 2004 and provides developers with the infrastructure to include head-to-head online multiplayer in their videogames. According to their website, their services are used by more than 280 million gamers worldwide. They were purchased by Activision – publishers of the multi-million selling Call of Duty and Guitar Hero franchises - in 2007.
The creators of the World of Warcraft series employ over 600 people at their customer support centre in Cork. WoW has been a videogame juggernaut for eight years, with over nine million subscribers as of August 2012. The world's most-subscribed to massively multiplayer online role-playing game, has even got a few famous fans.
Bioware employs around 200 permanent staff at its Global Customer Support and Operations Centre in Galway. The company, which is owned by EA, is the creator of the popular Mass Effect and Dragon Age video game series.
Based in Wicklow, Icon Games have produced bite-sized software for download on handhelds and Console.
BatCat released their first game, P-3, on the Xbox LIVE Indie Games marketplace in January of this year.
Independent studio, based in Derry in Northern Ireland. Developers of DogFighter on PC.
Creators of the multiplayer online battle-arena game, League of Legends, Riot Games operates a European support centre out of its offices in Dublin. League of Legends has over 11 million active players each month, making it one of the most popular online games in the world. The game is well-known for succeeding at the 'free-to-play' model, where the game itself is available for free, and players are charged for extra characters, costumes, and other virtual goods.
One of the biggest publishers of free-to-play massively multiplayer online games within Europe, Gala Networks has its European Headquarters in the Digital Hub in Dublin city centre.
Zynga are perhaps best known as the makers of FarmVille and CityVille on Facebook. They set up a customer care centre in Dublin in 2010.