Sleepless in Seattle

I was in Seattle last week to conduct a whirlwind series of meetings with some of the area’s largest game-development studios. The Seattle area was the one recognized cluster of game development in the United States that I had not visited personally so I was keen to gather as much info as possible. During the course of my short visit I was able to sit down with 12 area execs to discuss Seattle’s game-development industry cluster, gather info on perceptions of the Triangle’s industry, as well as glean insight on what these folks thought about future trends and trajectories in this volatile industry.

I had no idea of the size and scope of the Seattle game-development cluster. Greater Seattle (including Bellevue and Kirkland) is home to a multitude of large developers (Bungie,PopcapWarner Brothers) as well as a host of smaller indie shops. Seattle is also home to Digipen which is one of the premiere game-development centric universities in the country.

Everyone I met with was very nice and willing to share insights about the Seattle market; most folks were also very bullish on Seattle in general (even with the long months of dreary Pacific Northwest weather!). The area is extremely talent-rich, it appears to have ample money floating around, and it has the fortune of being anchored by several large multi-nationals (having Microsoft based there is obviously a huge benefit).

A few of the people I met with had some idea of what we have going on here in North Carolina; the East Coast Game Conferenceappeared to have been noticed/heard of by several folks which was great to hear. All told, however, our market resonated very little there (with the exception of Epic, which everyone obviously knew of but did not realize that it was headquartered in Cary).

This wasn’t a revelation to me as the West Coast (from L.A. up to Vancouver) is hands-down THE hotbed of game development globally. Austin is a ways back from these locales, and on the East Coast (roughly) Montreal is the largest game-development cluster. The Triangle has, in relative terms, the East Coast’s (proper) best hub of game development. It became obvious that Seattle boasts a very similar demographic to ours (young, educated, technologically savvy) but also enjoys a much higher profile in this industry. Another interesting thing was that only one person that I met with had ever even been to North Carolina which makes me wonder that if some of the folks I interacted with visited the state, would they consider setting up shop here?


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