On Wednesday, surrounded by Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert and other state and local officials, Electronic Arts executives had a "grand opening" of its offices in Salt Lake City to much applause. The office has actually been running in Salt Lake for three months, but this grand celebration allowed the public to get a look inside EA's new operation. The 20,000-square-foot office serves as a base to develop and manufacture games featuring pet and Nerf guns toys for children and families as part of an agreement it signed with Hasbro.
But after the ceremonial "grand opening," EA took the opportunity to strongly urge Utah lawmakers to give the videogame industry more tax incentives on par with what it currently gives the film industry. EA government affairs director Craig Hagan led the charge, saying that in other parts of the country, like Texas and Florida, and in Canada's Vancouver and British Columbia, governments are offering rebates on corporate income taxes of up to 42 percent to companies like EA.
"We're not competing with traditional brick-and-mortar business in Main Street," he said. "We're competing against other digital media companies across the world."
Hagan also said that the average wage for a game-industry employee is $92,000 a year and that the industry is larger than money generated from Hollywood films and music combined, bringing in about $20 billion worldwide every year.
Members of the Governor's Office of Economic Development said that some incentives are available to businesses like EA but the company did not use them. Gov. Gary Herbert added that Utah has been ranked highly among states in terms of places to work and places to start technology companies. Legislators at the party said that no incentive programs for the technology sector are on the table at this point in time, but they were willing to listen to EA executives about the issue.