Video game industry booms in Triangle

Posted April 12, 2010 5:27 p.m. EDT
Updated April 12, 2010 6:52 p.m. EDT

— As locally based Epic Games gears up for the announcement of two new games late Monday, the video game industry in the Triangle continues to prosper despite an economic recession.

Across the Triangle, 40 video game companies employ about 1,500 people.

“The local games industry has created hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue yearly. It's a big, big business,” Mike Capps, president of Epic Games, said Monday.

Officials at Wake Technical Community College said the number of students declaring video gaming as their major has increased from 60 to 500 since the program started four years ago.

“I think you're seeing a shift, or a change or even a progression in the gaming industry, where it's becoming more widely accepted,” said Brad Swearingen, of Wake Technical. “All types of people play games. Doesn't matter if you're in your 40s now, you're still playing games."

Though video game sales dipped last year due to the recession, Swearingen said the Triangle is still a fertile job market.

“When times are bad, people want to entertain themselves. And gaming is a really big entertainment business,” he said.

“Video game technology development is a really growing development in Raleigh for sure. When a lot of other businesses have been having trouble, video games are still going strong,” Capps said.

As an example of how big the industry has gotten, Cliff Bleszinski, Epic’s creative lead on the multi-million selling “Gears of War” franchise, will be appearing on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” on Monday night to announce two new games.

Most business and technology experts believe the late-night TV booking is a first for the industry, which now rivals movies for advertising and revenue.

“We’re just a little company here in Raleigh,” Capps said. “Suddenly we're a world-wide company announcing two big media properties on the same day."

Epic confirmed on Monday that the game will be released this year. 

Internet speculation suggests that the second game being announced Monday night Capps would not confirm only telling WRAL News, "You're welcome to theorize. You might even be right."