Avalanche explains New York studio opening

By Steve Watts, Jun 22, 2011 3:00pm PDT

Just Cause 2 developer Avalanche recently announced a studio in the New York, to serve as the American arm of the Swedish developer. But why New York, when so much of the game industry is located on the west coast?

"At Avalanche we've always wanted to have a presence in the US, and not only do I personally not like the West Coast very much, but it's just too overcrowded, it's expensive, and it's hard to travel there," company founder Christopher Sundberg told Edge. "We wanted to set up a studio where we could really bring the Swedish company culture to the US, and also enjoy the great talent pool that's available there."

New York studio managing director David Grijns added thoughts on the new studio's first title. "The idea of the New York studio was to start off with something small, perhaps an XBLA title, but that was quickly shelved when a new opportunity came up that the Stockholm headquarters wasn't able to take on," he said. "Since there are multiple projects in development - five, currently - even with 150 staff in Stockholm there really was no additional resource to take this project on. But it was also something that was too good to turn down - and that's what spurred the creation of a New York studio."

As for benefits of the location, Sundberg said New York City is expensive, but "actually less expensive than the west coast." Grijns added that any hires would be "competing with a hundred other studios within a 25 square mile radius." He says that drives up the cost of salary for talent just to stay competitive.

"A lot of people want to be in New York, but there's nowhere to work," said Grijns. "Thanks to THQ the choices are now even fewer than they were before," referring to the recent closure of Kaos Studios as THQ works to shore up talent in Vancouver, Canada, and Austin, Texas.

The pair also notes that New York has a shorter time difference between the headquarters in Stockholm, making collaboration easier. A location in Soho has already been decided, and they plan to have the studio operational by September.

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