Electronic Arts has inked a deal for a new 250,000-square foot development studio in a disputed area of Los Angeles, the publisher said on Wednesday - the latest step in its ambitious plans to expand the Californian operation. It plans to start moving its 300 local staff to the new Water's Edge complex in the Playa Vista area by the end of this year.
The Playa Vista community being developed near the Ballona Wetlands is an area environmentalists have fought, and seemingly lost the chance, to preserve, despite public demonstrations and other activities carried out by groups like Stop Playa Vista Now.
EA's new complex in the area will allow the publisher to double its LA staff by 2005, while the site boasts an overall capacity of 1,000 people. The publisher says that the new site will have Hollywood-style entrance gates, recreational facilities and ocean access as part of a complex that plays home to various expensive residential and commercial properties.
Reports suggest that movie studio DreamWorks SKG once planned to build a studio campus there, but eventually pulled out of the project. Anybody who does set up shop in the area can look forward to paying a hefty bill, with local reports putting lease rates at around $2.75 per square foot.
EA's LA studio has been the focus of much development of late, after the publisher closed its EA Pacific and EA Las Vegas (Westwood) operations earlier this year and amalgamated the lot into a huge pool of LA development talent - headhunting a number of Hollywood film talent in the process.
It was said at the time that special effects gurus responsible for work on The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions, Armageddon, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and other blockbusting special effects movies were amongst EA's new charges.
EA vice president and general manager John Blatter said the new complex would help bolster creativity.
"The Waterâs Edge campus fulfills our strategy of creating an environment that fosters innovation and great game development," he said on Wednesday. "EAâs business is growing quickly and Los Angeles is a rich environment for talented people in the visual effects, animation, sound design and engineering fields. Our goal is to make this new studio the best place to work in the entertainment industry."
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn said that "EAâs decision to locate its studio in Los Angeles reflects our place on the cutting edge of technology and entertainment."
"The hundreds of high quality jobs that will come to our city as a result of this will continue to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit that is driving our local economy."