BizSpots: Ubisoft, Gamecock, GDC, WCG, Nokia, Xfire, Midway, EA

Publisher's studio expanded; EIEIO detailed; GDC boarded; World Cyber Games sponsored; mobile-maker Leipzig'd; CEO exits; Art Institute awarded; EA speechified.


Ubisoft expands Casablanca studio
Coming off record 2006 earnings, Ubisoft is doing more than just hunting for new studios. The France-based publisher announced today it would be bringing on 150 new developers to its Casablanca studio by 2010 and moving to a new location to accommodate the growth. As a way to attract new jobs in the technology industry, the Moroccan government has created an incentive program for companies to create and train new positions, which Ubisoft cited as one reason for the expansion. The Casablanca studio currently employs 50 people and is in the process of developing Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 for the Nintendo DS.

EIEIO to run during E3
Before founding Gamecock, Mike Wilson and Harry Miller headed up Gathering of Developers, which was a semi-independent Take-Two studio. Aside from its games, Gathering of Developers was notable within the industry for its hedonistic Electronic Entertainment Expo parties thrown in a parking lot across the street from the actual show. With that said, Gamecock today has released new details on its upcoming Expo for Interactive Entertainment, Independent and Original (EIEIO), which will be held during this year's E3 Media & Business Summit. Its event will take place July 11-17 at the Hotel California in Santa Monica. Developers signed to the publisher will be on hand to demo Fury, Insecticide, Dementium: The Ward, Hail to the Chimp, Mushroom Men, and Dungeon Hero, as well as two previously unannounced games.

Pardo, Otobe, others join GDC advisory board
The Game Developers Conference has increased in scope in recent months, and to accommodate, CMP Games Group has today announced the addition of five new members to its advisory board for GDC 08. New additions to the board are: Carey Chico, studio art director for Pandemic Studios; John Feil, designer at Snowblind Studios; Ichiro Otobe, chief strategist at Square Enix; Rob Pardo, vice president of Game Design at Blizzard Entertainment; and Dave Ranyard, creative services manager at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's London development studio. GDC 08 will be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco at its newly rescheduled date of February 18-22.

Samsung, Falcon Saftey to sponsor WCG
The World Cyber Games committee announced today it had signed sponsorship deals with Samsung and Falcon Saftey Products. Through the deal, Samsung will be the official digital camera of WCG 2007 Korean National Final, WCG USA 2007 Championship, and WCG 2007 Grand Final. Likewise, Falcon's Dust Off will receive promotion at the WCG USA National Championship and WCG European Championship events, as well as at the WCG Grand Final. The 2007 WCG Grand Final will take place October 3-7 in Seattle, Washington. The 2006 Grand Final, which was held in Monza, Italy, was viewed by more than 24 million people.

Nokia coheadlining GCDC conference
Nokia will join Intel as the primary sponsor for this year's Games Convention Developers Conference. At the GCDC, which is a conference for European developers, Nokia will give a mobile platform keynote address alongside other sponsors. The company will also be sponsoring the GCDC Night, during which it plans to showcase its new lineup of N-Gage games. GCDC will run from August 20-22 in Leipzig, Germany. The conference directly precedes the ever-expanding Leipzig Games Convention, which is slated to run August 23-26.

Cassidy to join Benchmark Capital
Earlier this year, Jamdat Mobile founder Mitch Lasky left EA Mobile for Benchmark Capital, signing on as general partner. Today, another gaming-sector exec is headed to the venture capital firm. Mike Cassidy, CEO of community-support service Xfire, has announced he will be leaving the company he cofounded in 2003 to join on with Benchmark as an entrepreneur in residence. In his new role, Cassidy will evaluate business ventures in the consumer Internet market for the company, as well as lend assistance to other companies in Benchmark's portfolio.

Game execs announce design competition winners
The Art Institute Online, a division of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh that focuses on the artistic side of gaming, announced today the winners of its "Live Your Creative Passion" scholarship competition. The two $10,000 scholarships were awarded to Orsolya Windhoffer, of Rockville, Maryland and Katherine Anderson, of Roscoe, Illinois. Along with George Pry, president of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, this year's panel of judges consisted of Richard Rouse III, director of game design at Midway Games, as well as DJ Cassell and Tracy Spaight, creative director and Chief Operating Officer at Rapid Reality Studios, respectively.

EA's Warren Jenson to speak at stock conference
Warren Jenson, EA's chief financial and administrative officer, has been scheduled to speak at the William Blair Growth Stock Conference. The conference will take place on June 20 in Chicago, Illinois. According to EA, Jenson may make "forward-looking statements" that pertain to the company's anticipated future financial and business performance. An audio webcast of the address will be available over the company's Web site through June 27.

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