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California company plugs into Austin’s gaming sector with new studio

California company plugs into Austin’s gaming sector with new studio

Marvel's Avengers game
The gaming studio behind Marvel's Avengers is setting up shop in Austin. Marvel's Avengers/Instagram

Austin’s robust gaming sector has a new player. Crystal Dynamics, producer of Marvel’s Avengers and the Tomb Raider trilogy, has opened a game development studio here called Crystal Southwest.

Crystal Dynamics announced the Austin studio in a May 26 tweet. Gaming veteran Dallas Dickinson leads the new office.

“The initial team in Austin, made up of Crystal Dynamics veterans, is already hard at work,” Crystal Dynamics says on Twitter, adding that it’s in hiring mode here.

The company says the Austin outpost will be a “major part of all current and future Crystal Dynamics titles.”

Dickinson has been an executive producer at Crystal Dynamics for nearly two years. Before that, he was president and CEO of Austin-based QC Games, a developer of online games, from 2015 until the company shut down in 2019. Before QC Games, he spent six years as director of production and senior producer at Canadian video game company BioWare, which has an Austin studio.

Tokyo-based Square Enix owns Crystal Dynamics, which is based in Redwood City, California, and which operates a studio in Bellevue, Washington.

Crystal Dynamics’ arrival in Austin underscores the city’s prominence as a gaming hub.

GameDesigning.org ranks Austin as the fifth best city for aspiring game designers. The website says close to 75 game-oriented studios are located in Austin. Meanwhile, GameJobHunter places Austin at No. 6 on its list of the top cities for job opportunities in gaming (318 openings as of May 27). GameJobHunter says Austin is home to 50 game studios.

Last year, Austin appeared at No. 6 on WalletHub’s list of the best U.S. cities for gamers, one spot ahead of San Francisco. Ranking factors included internet speed and video game stores per capita.

“In addition to vaunted music and technology scenes, Austin can also claim to be the cradle of modern video game design,” SXSW noted in 2018. “While the city hosts dozens of smaller and independent companies working on games and gaming technology, not to mention extension offices of heavy hitters like Blizzard, BioWare, and EA, less well-known is the fact that much of the way that games are played and designed originated in Austin.”