It started in a cafe on Michelson Drive.
In 2003, three entrepreneurs sat around a table and shared their vision for a new business.
Today, that vision is the world-famous Ready At Dawn Studio – a virtual reality pioneer and part of a video game industry with annual sales of $ 150 billion.
“When we decided to start a game development studio, it was clear that we would stay in Irvine,” said Ru Weerasuriya, co-founder of Ready At Dawn, who came from Irvine-based Blizzard Entertainment. “We had our roots here and this is where the talent lies.”
Now Weerasuriya has a new vision.
After nearly two decades of success, Ready At Dawn teamed up with Facebook’s Oculus last month – a dream result Weerasuriya credits again to Irvine for helping create it.
“I’ll tell you, the Irvine gaming industry is one of the strongest there is,” Weerasuriya says. “Our takeover by Facebook confirms this again.”
Irvine is also home to Amazon Game Studios, Obsidian Entertainment, and other game developers serving a global audience of 2.2 billion video gamers.
For Weerasuriya, Irvine’s X-factors are local talent and its innovation-driven economy.
“One thing Irvine provided us with was a great base for creative people,” he says. “Irvine is creative. It’s a really cool place especially for those who don’t want the Los Angeles congestion. “
But it’s not just local talent that he’s recruiting. People from all over the world come to work at Ready At Dawn and other Irvine technology companies.
“Irvine was this huge draw for tech talent,” says Weerasuriya. “Not only those who are already here, but also from Europe and other places in the US.”
“It helps that it’s sunny all the time,” he says.
There are more than 900 technology companies calling Irvine at home. Gaming is a huge part of this tech ecosystem, supported by UC Irvine and proximity to other companies.
When asked whether UC Irvine is a training ground for its industry, Weerasuriya says: “Absolutely. Graduates have an entry into the tech industry. This is great for everyone. “
Ready At Dawn’s offices are in the UCI Research Park, which is directly across from the university and aims to connect high-tech companies with the best research university in the country.
Ready At Dawn’s “Echo VR” game.
As in any industry, the current pandemic is causing Weerasuriya to think about the future. But he sees growth and greater creativity for his customers.
“I know times are tough now,” he says. “I think the great thing about this industry is that we give people the opportunity to break away from the norm when they need to.”
He is optimistic about the future and sees growth in Irvine on the immediate horizon.
“We’re going to hire,” he says. “We’ll grow and we’ll grow in Irvine.”