British video game trade paper MCV is reporting that Electronic Arts has confirmed that it is setting a new EA office and European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Eighty-five roles will be transplanted from the existing European HQ located in Chertsey, south of London, England, from of a total of eight hundred and fifty staff.
The move was confirmed by EA's executive vice president of international publishing Gerhard Florin, who suggested that the company was keen to move into the geographical heart of Europe, even though the UK remained the largest single market. Florin also indicated that some territories felt that Electronic Arts had been too focused on the UK, commenting to MCV: "What we want to be is a truly international division, so we've moved to a more neutral territory, possibly the most neutral territory of all."
Also speaking to MCV, Northern region EA executive Paul Jackson calmed concerns that this move heralded any major change in EA's strategy away from Chertsey, commenting: "The UK is still the creative hub in Europe. It's the home of the Northern Region and UK teams and the studio here will continue to grow."
Electronic Arts' move into continental Europe can arguably be seen as part of larger European centralization trends on behalf of the entire industry, with the giant Games Convention 2005 in Leipzig, Germany attracting much more interest this year, a growth of regional-specific console content (well-illustrated by Sony's extensive regional changes
for the SingStar
series), and lower development costs in some parts of central and Eastern Europe stimulating industry growth as asset needs increase.