When it rains it pours game news in Seattle, apparently.
A few hours after spinning off Bungie, Microsoft Games Studio Vice President Shane Kim was at Qwest Field for a panel discussion about the economic effect of the Seattle area game industry.
Kim didn’t mention the spinoff during the panel, but made a pointed comment about the priority Microsoft places on developing its own games, saying “internal development is a priority for us”:
“What we try to do is ensure we’re the best home for the best creative talent in the world.”
Interesting, because some might say Bungie has had the top gaming talent recently — from a business perspective at least — and it’s looking for its own digs.
I asked Kim about this afterward, and he emphasized how Microsoft is trying to accommodate the wishes of Bungie and they maintain a close relationship:
“This is all about Bungie returning to its creative roots.”
We can hop it will stay in the area, which is now one of the top four or five cities for game development, according to data presented at Enterprise Seattle’s Economic Update Lunch, during the World Cyber Games taking place at the stadium this week.
The group hired Chris Mefford, an economist who also does work for the Gates Foundation, to quantify the industry’s local effects. Mefford shared some early highlights:
— 150 companies in the area are in the games business.
— Their sales were $4.1 billion in 2006 and expected to reach $4.9 billion in 2007, driven mostly by Microsoft’s games business.
— Those companies create 15,000 jobs
— Average wages are $77,700, above average for the sector.
— Game jobs have grown 33 percent a year since 2004.
— Seattle has the nation’s fourth highest concentration of programmers and engineers and third highest concentration of multimedia artists and animators, behind San Francisco and Los Angeles.
“It’s easily one of the top places to recruit and bring people in for game development,” said moderator Jeff Pobst, chief executive of Hidden Path Entertainment.
Other panelists were FlowPlay’s Derrick Morton, PopCap’s John Vechey and Samantha Ryan of Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, which bought Kirkland’s Monolith game company in 2004 and is now expanding here with a new production unit.