Kixeye is announcing today that it is setting up a new customer service center in Portland, Ore., as it expands support for its online combat strategy games.
The move could jumpstart a fledgling game industry in the Silicon Forest, as Portland is known. The region is home to plenty of chip makers such as Intel and hardware companies such as Hewlett-Packard, but it has a tiny presence in the expanding game industry. Kixeye’s move will add 20 jobs by the end of the year. It may not sound like much, but it might very well get a gaming ecosystem going in Oregon.
San Francisco-based Kixeye makes games such as Backyard Monsters, War Commander, Battle Pirates, and Vega Conflict. It recently expanded into mobile games. The new center will serve as “customer advocacy” for games, not game design.
Catherine Card, vice president of customer advocacy at Kixeye, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company considered other regions with a lot of game jobs, but it decided to expand into a region where it would be one of the first major game companies. The hope is to tap into a community that has a lot of gamers but don’t have a lot of jobs available for them. Rather than move the customer support operation offshore, Kixeye wanted to keep customer support in-house and near its San Francisco headquarters.
“We wanted to find the right fit for our player base,” Card said. “We found a lot of passion and game development talent. There is no one of our size yet.”
Card said that a couple of Kixeye employees went to the local arcade, Ground Control, to look for gamers. The managers promised to send them a whole bunch of resumes of dedicated gamers, and they fulfilled that promise.
Jared Wiener, software industry specialist at the Portland Development Commission, said that smaller game companies include ClutchPlay, but there aren’t other big game companies in the region yet.
“We have a software industry that is growing and a game sector would play to our strengths,” Wiener said. “We’re an affordable place in terms of costs, and it’s a city that people want to live in.”
Portland didn’t offer any unusual incentives beyond its normal general support, Card said. Other communities sometimes offer incentives for companies to create jobs in the state.