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Vicarious Visions Adding 115 Jobs, Investing $7.3 Million In Albany



By Chelsea DianaAlbany Business Review

Vicarious Visions, the Albany video game studio that has been working hard on the latest iteration of the "Destiny" franchise, is expanding with a new office and planning to hire more than 100 employees.

The company is investing more than $7.3 million to move and fit up a new 44,000-square-foot office in Colonie, according to a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office. As part of this expansion, Vicarious Visions plans to add 115 employees. The release did not say where in Colonie the office will be based.

Vicarious Visions is a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI). The studio employs 200 developers, artists and producers, and has produced popular video games like "Guitar Hero," "Call of Duty" and the "Skylanders" franchise, which is worth $3 billion.

Studio head Jennifer Oneal was promoted to the top position in 2016, after Vicarious Visions’ founders, Guha and Karthik Bala, left to create a new company.

The Balas started the studio in 1991 while they were in high school in Rochester, and grew the company at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, while Karthik Bala was getting his undergraduate degree. They sold it to Activision in 2005 for $5.3 million.

Under Oneal’s leadership, Vicarious Visions has been on a hiring spree, bringing in new artists and engineers to work on one of the most popular first-person shooter games in the industry — “Destiny.”

The studio is working with Bungie, a Seattle developer that is known for making "Halo" and "Destiny," on the project. It's a more mature title for Vicarious Visions, and the company has changed its branding to match that.

Vicarious Visions currently has nine jobs listed on its careers page, including a job for a senior recruiter.

Empire State Development is supporting Vicarious Visions' move with up to $2 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program Tax Credits, according to the release. Vicarious Visions has been based in Menands near Albany.

The video game industry employs around 450 people in the region. Video game executives believe the region's industry can grow to employ thousands of people. To do so, they have been pushing for New York state to give digital media and gaming companies a 25 percent tax credit. It would be an extension of the film industry tax credit that offers $420 million a year in tax breaks for film and movie productions.

Albany Business Review recently interviewed Oneal about her goals to hire a diverse staff to reflect a changing, and growing, audience of gamers. Watch the video. 

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