02:40 PM - July 18, 2011 by ChaseB
Electronic Arts officially confirmed today that it is expanding EA Sports and creating a new development division in Austin, Texas that will staff 300 employees.
This confirms earlier reports leaked in an in-house memo sent by Daryl Holt, EA's chief operating officer, about expanding EA Sports into Austin to help "attract" and "retain" great talent in the development industry.
The announcement was made today at BioWare Austin, a studio most notably known for Mass Effect and the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. Governor Rick Perry was on hand for the announcement, along with Daryl Holt and Frank Gibeau, EA Games president. The 300 jobs will consist of 150 full-time employees and 150 contract workers.
When speaking with Gibeau, he made it clear that these are all new jobs, not jobs just being moved from one studio to another. However, current EA employees can apply for a position at the Austin studio. In addition, Holt also wanted to make it clear that EA Tiburon and EA Canada are still growing rather than shrinking at this time.
As of now, the goal is to get the studio staffed and up and running, according to Holt. The focus in the short term will be on getting ready to help out on the HD platforms, with a focus on assisting with the persistent online gaming experiences showing up in more and more EA Sports titles these days. As for more off in the distance, Holt believes "the sky is the limit" for what the studio can do.
Earlier this year, I spoke with Dale Jackson, who heads up the fighting and new IP units at EA Sports, and he mentioned launching two new sports IP in three years. While Holt did not want to commit at this point to a new IP being launched at this Austin studio, with new intellectual properties on the horizon this new studio clearly makes sense to have around, if only just in a support role for now.