Turbine to open new Los Angeles studio

Jason Bell tapped to head developer's new West Coast office, which will also serve as a hub for Asian business development.

Asheron's Call creator Turbine Entertainment continues in growth mode. Two months ago, it secured $18 million in venture capital. Just days later, news broke that it had bought back all rights to the Asheron's Call property it had earlier licensed to Microsoft. And concurrent with that announcement, the company said it intended to support all game operations for Asheron's Call, Asheron's Call 2, all expansion packs, and the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons Online.

Today, the Boston-based developer raised the stakes again. In a statement to be released later this morning, Turbine will announce the hire of former Atari senior vice president Jason Bell. Bell will take on the position of executive vice president and will oversee all operations at Turbine's new Los Angeles-based studio.

The Hollywood beat is familiar to Bell; he comes off a three-year-plus stint at Atari, where he developed contacts between the game publisher and the entertainment community--and also oversaw Atari's release schedule from the global perspective.

"I've been working pretty intensively for Atari for three and a half years. I've got a good network of contacts in LA in the film community and the entertainment business at large," Bell told GameSpot today.

Turbine's new West Coast operations will have a two-pronged mission: to support development that will come from newly hired designers and project leads and to act as a base of operations to tap into the lucrative Asia-Pacific marketplace.

In our exclusive Q&A, Bell told GameSpot today that Turbine hopes to establish a presence in Korea and China and to also seek out successful products that might find traction in the US market. The primary effort of his West Coast team will be to partner with local operators and seed the online gaming community with updated versions of both Asheron's Call and Asheron's Call 2.

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