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Gaming developer’s Reno office to spearhead expansion efforts

ROB SABO
rsabo@nnbw.biz

For Ryan Cuddy, vice president of game design for Video Game Technologies, the opening of the company’s Reno gaming development studio is a dream come true.

Cuddy, 36, cut his teeth running a development studio for IGT, but he was looking for new opportunities when he connected with VGT founder Jon Yarbrough, who was looking to expand his company’s footprint in the West.

Cuddy will spearhead Video Game Technologies’ efforts to develop new mechanical and video reel slot concepts and expand the company’s presence in gaming markets across the U.S, including Nevada. VGT was formally introduced as a northern Nevada company at a press conference organized last Thursday by Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada and highlighted by a visit from Gov. Brian Sandoval.

VGT’s primary markets are Oklahoma and Mexico with limited operations in California and Washington. Currently the company is not licensed in Nevada, but it’s overarching goal is to be licensed in all major U.S. gaming jurisdictions.

“What this studio is really about is bringing the next level gaming product through VGT and be able to expand to all other markets across the U.S.,” Cuddy says.

Cuddy and a co-worker formed a small Reno-based team in May of 2011, and the company leased 18,000-square-feet of space at NevDex Office Park in January of 2012. To date VGT has hired 40 employees and hopes to employ up to 63 people by year’s end. The company seeks a wide range of creative and technical talent, including artists, animators, quality assurance, programing and engineering, mathematicians and designers.

“We have full teams to build out,” Cuddy says.

Reno is ideally situated, he adds, to draw talented game developers from Reno and Las Vegas, as well as top technical talent from Silicon Valley and Washington. Roughly 20 employees were hired locally; the rest transferred or were pulled in from outside markets, Cuddy says.

“I knew coming into this role what the talent pool was,” Cuddy says. “I knew we could get up and running with an incredibly talented team that would allow us to build these next-generation products and broaden VGT’s ability to deliver into other markets.

VGT was founded in Franklin, Tenn., in 1991 by Yarbrough, who says the business went broke once and almost failed three more times in its early years before being named Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing company in 2005. The company now employs more than 600.