| 16.6°C Dublin

Changing face of users makes industry worth billions

EA Games' decision to create 300 jobs at its campus in Galway has thrown the spotlight on the video games industry, an industry that may have been dismissed by many people as a bastion of teenage boys hunched over a games console until the early hours.

That's no longer the case though.

The average "gamer" is now 37 years old, while more than a third of computer game users are women.

The size of the industry has exploded in recent years, as the rise of the smartphone puts a portable games console in the hands of millions of people who wouldn't have been interested in gaming in the past.

Globally the business is now worth more than the film industry and is expected to reach more than $125bn (€96bn) by 2015.

With those kind of numbers it is clear why the IDA has so aggressively targeted the sector.

The agency has said it wants to deliver 2,500 jobs in digital games by 2014. With this announcement, EA will have nearly 700 staff in Galway, while the world's biggest video games company Activision Blizzard employs about the same number in Cork.

So far so good -- but there are some caveats.

While the industry overall is flying, some areas are doing better than others.

EA is creating 300 jobs in Galway but its subsidiary PopCap games is likely to close its Dublin office, with the loss of 96 jobs.

Activision Blizzard said in February it would cut up to 200 of its then 900 staff in Cork.

Yesterday, EA's chief operating officer Peter Moore was at pains to talk up his company but did so at the expense of another games company, Zynga, that employs about 110 in Dublin.

The new jobs are vital, and very welcome, but they need to be sustainable for the long term.

Irish Independent