BY MICHAEL SCANLON
For the Bulletin
LAS CRUCES – A new video game development and publishing studio is setting up shop in downtown Las Cruces with plans to create as many as 51 new high-wage creative and technology jobs, state and local officials announced during an event to welcome the company.
Ganymede Games will serve a global market in the rapidly growing PC console video game industry from its Las Cruces studio, officials said.
“The jobs they anticipate creating include engineers, artists, designers, production staff and writers with high-wage salaries between $35,000 and $150,000 a year,” said Alicia Keyes, state economic development secretary, who spoke at the event Friday, Feb. 1.
The state will invest up to $250,000, and the city will invest up to $100,000 in Local Economic Development Act funds. The company will invest $1.3 million in capital investment in its headquarters in the Bank of the West building on the north side of downtown’s Plaza de Las Cruces.
Ganymede also will be eligible to take advantage of incentives the state offers to the film industry.
“The company will contribute to New Mexico’s creative economy and will combat the brain drain from New Mexico. This project is helping New Mexico by keeping talented people right here in Las Cruces,” Keyes said.
Ganymede Games founder and CEO Jerry Prochazka said Las Cruces and his company are a good match.
“We started out looking for a home for our video game studio, and we looked at many states across the U.S., and New Mexico opened up its arms,” Prochazka said. “Everyone in Las Cruces has been absolutely fantastic. It’s a warm place, both in weather and in spirit, and I’m really appreciative of that.”
Prochazka is a former executive at Riot Games, a Los Angeles-based company whose game titles include League of Legends. It was there he met Ganymede co-founder Lynn Stetson, he said.
“We formed Ganymede Games primarily because our industry is in a great moment of flux,” Prochazka said. “We have increasing cost pressures, a lot of jobs are moving overseas, and we find that some of the products coming out tend to be derivative.
“So we’re going to do something really different with our team, tell some good stories and bring some innovative and new game play to the market,” he said. “With that, we’re also going to take risks. But you don’t stay in video games if you’re not willing to take risks and you’re not willing to double down on things you believe in.”
He described the video game industry as a “never-ending treadmill” and noted that all endeavors are risky with a high chance of failure.
“New Mexico brings a business environment to the table that really helps reduce some of that risk, both in the fact that there are many talented people in New Mexico who are excited to work, and also the business environment. The film tax credit is a gem, and we are excited to be probably the first video game company to actually take advantage of that.”
The city worked closely with the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance, or MVEDA, to bring the company to Las Cruces, said Phil San Filippo, the city director of economic development.
MVEDA CEO Davin Lopez said others who contributed to the effort were New Mexico State University and Doña Ana Community College. The schools offer programs in video game design.
“I can’t say enough about what DACC and NMSU brought to the table,” Lopez said. “What we learned from this entire process is that we have an industry to grow here. This is what’s really exciting about Ganymede coming to town. They are the ones who are carving the path for other companies to follow.”
Also speaking at the event, Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima recalled playing video games in his youth.
“There was a video game place on Solano,” the mayor said, “and my dad used to give me a hard time, he said, why do you always play those video games? I said, Dad, this is the future.”
Miyagishima said Ganymede will bring more than $14 million in taxable income to the city in the next 10 years.
Michael Scanlon is a freelance reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.