Video game technology provider GarageGames LLC is relocating its headquarters to Vancouver from Las Vegas, and the small company’s CEO cites the quality of applicants for a top-level position as a deciding factor in choosing Vancouver over Portland.
Eric Preisz said he ran similar ads for a senior-level position, one that would be based in Portland and one in Vancouver. With the Vancouver ad, “not only were there more candidates, but I got better candidates,” the 36-year-old CEO said. “I didn’t expect that.” The ability to attract talent in Vancouver was, to Preisz, more important than lower taxes and a lower cost of living in choosing the city for his company’s new home.
GarageGames will move its headquarters within weeks to downtown Vancouver. Preisz won’t name the location because he hasn’t wrapped up lease negotiations. Five of its 13 employees will work there, and the remainder will remain in Las Vegas, where the company sells its products to local school districts.
GarageGames is best known as the maker of Torque game development products, which have been used by over 170,000 registered developers of thousands of games. The company also is focused heavily on its work with more than 200 universities and schools on computer science and game design curricula. Its flagship product is a game development curriculum for high schools and colleges being marketed under their GG Interactive brand.
Preisz said the company historically has concentrated on making tools that teach people how to make games. The shift now underway, he said, is in developing software tools that help educators and others learn how to teach game development.
The company was founded by four industry veterans in Eugene, Ore., in 2000. It was bought by giant internet consortium IAC Inc. in 2008. After relocating to Las Vegas in 2009, the company was sold to Pennsylvania-based Graham Software Development. Preisz, who joined the company in 2010, is not a Northwest native but wanted to move the company closer to his wife’s family in Salem, Ore. He will move his family to Camas.
He first looked to Portland and its Oregon suburbs, then considered Vancouver because he didn’t want the relocation to raise the cost of living and taxes for his relocating employees. While the city’s downtown initially seemed a bit sleepy to him, Preisz said he soon discovered that a cluster of technology companies was emerging quietly in the business district.
“I think we’re getting into something early,” Preisz said Thursday from Las Vegas. There are a lot of startups that people don’t realize are there. I do think we can develop a technology community there.” He praised the Columbia River Economic Development Council, the public-private job recruiting agency, for its consistent support as the company was considering its relocation options.
GarageGames will be located in what is called the Vancouver-Camas Applied Digital Technology Accelerator Innovation Partnership Zone, or IPZ for short. The state designation is intended to build momentum for a technology industry cluster in Clark County, and it offers opportunities to secure grants and other funding to achieve that goal.
Mike Bomar, CREDC’s president, described GarageGames as “a really good company that will help build momentum within the Innovation Partnership Zone. While the company isn’t getting any financial benefit from locating in the IPZ, it is joining in a growing cluster of technology companies, including many that are flying under the radar of public recognition.
In recruiting more companies to the zone, Bomar said, “it helps to have existing and recently recruited companies” to show success in developing a Clark County digital technology brand.