MA. Considering Incentives for the Video Game Industry

January 18, 2011 -

Correction: I erroneously wrote earlier that "Massachusetts has a thriving video games industry - mostly in the Western part of the state in and around Boston." This is quite incorrect and doubly embarrassing because I actually live in Massachusetts (I do know where Boston is, for the record). A revised story below:

Massachusetts may join Texas, Georgia and countless other states that offer some sort of tax incentives to the interactive entertainment industry. According to a report in the Boston Herald, supports of the effort want to expand the "the state’s $2 billion video game industry to $20 billion" within the next five years. To do that, the state will have to be willing to invest in incentives, but opponents say the state is already in the red.

One of the initiative’s supporters, State Rep. Vincent Pedone (D-Worcester) said it is too early to say what the effort would cost, but wants to expand the industry:

"Twenty-five or 30 years ago, no one in the Commonwealth knew what biotechnology was, and it has now become a critical part of our Massachusetts economy," said Pedone. "We think the video game design industry has equal potential."

Massachusetts has a thriving video games industry - mostly in the Eastern part of the state in and around Boston. Companies such as Turbine and Harmonix are long-time studios that have managed to survive despite the lack of incentives and the not-so-pro-business atmosphere in the state. Approximately 1,295 people are directly employed by video game developers or publishers, according to the Entertainment Software Association. That places the state fifth behind California, Texas, Washington and New York.

Turbine says that local colleges and universities offer a decent talent pool that fits the industry’s needs: "Our world is really a combination of everything creative, from visual to storytelling to game play, combined with good, old-fashioned sophisticated software engineering," said Ken Surdan, vice president of operations for Needham-based Turbine, Inc., maker of the online "Lord of the Rings" game.

But Harmonix sees its business constrained by high costs in Massachusetts that tend to inhibit startups and firms looking to expand.

Florian Hunziker, chief operating officer for Cambridge-based Harmonix Music Systems, said his company is often forced to outsource work to out-of-state studios: "It’s difficult for some of the Massachusetts development companies to be cost competitive with studios that are either in a state where there is a tax break or studios that are in place where there is a lower cost of living," he said.

Meanwhile opponents of new tax incentives for the game industry point to past failures with tax incentives, as well as a budget that is already stretched beyond belief.

Rep. Bradley Jones, the House Republican leader, said he’s not against cutting taxes for companies, but doesn’t believe the state should pick "winners and losers" in the private sector: "Do we go pick an industry, or do we focus our energies on more broad-based initiatives that would help all companies?" he asked.

He also pointed to last week’s announcement that Evergreen Solar planned to close its solar panel factory in Devens and lay off 800 workers. He notes that the company received $58 million in state aid in 2007.

Still, the news that someone on Beacon Hill is thinking about the industry probably gives companies like Turbine and Harmonix hope that someday the environment for business might improve. After all, it's obvious that these companies -- and others like Irrational Games - love the state; if they didn't they'd probably be headquartered in Texas by now..

Source: Boston Herald


 
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Andrew EisenPM - Yep, that's the one.03/06/2015 - 12:53am
TechnogeekBest case, it was some marketing douchebag who thought they could pander to both sides at once.03/06/2015 - 12:49am
TechnogeekAlso, this was the mistake tweet: http://i.imgur.com/4eLWNHx.jpg03/06/2015 - 12:48am
TechnogeekBecause nothing says "open, diverse gaming community" like buddying up with Breitbart.03/06/2015 - 12:47am
Papa MidnightAndrew Eisen, I believe this is the picture that you seek: http://i.imgur.com/Gdk60pa.jpg03/06/2015 - 12:30am
Papa MidnightSurely, Goth_Skunk, you say that in jest?03/06/2015 - 12:28am
prh99Craig R. Cause quite a few of them are not, they're bullies with different politics.03/06/2015 - 12:23am
MechaTama31What was the "mistake" tweet?03/06/2015 - 12:18am
MechaCrashWhatever you say, Goth.03/06/2015 - 12:02am
E. Zachary KnightGoth, they could have fooled me.03/05/2015 - 11:16pm
Goth_SkunkI don't understand. GamerGate supports an open, diverse gaming community for all as well. Google's statement is contradictory.03/05/2015 - 10:59pm
TechnogeekAnd as far as the Card thing went, I basically balanced it out personal guilt-wise by donating an amount equal to the Shadow Complex purchase price to the ACLU.03/05/2015 - 9:44pm
TechnogeekWelp, look like the Gerberghazi crowd is going to have to use Bing now. https://twitter.com/googlecloud/status/57365320825126093003/05/2015 - 9:42pm
Goth_SkunkAhh! I misinterpreted your statement about being left with almost every game in existence. I interpreted it as 'If you boycott games he's been involved with, you're boycotting almost all of them.'03/05/2015 - 9:31pm
Andrew EisenGoth - Card has been involved with only a small handful of games so if one were to boycott games for his involvement, they wouldn't be missing out on many games.03/05/2015 - 9:29pm
Goth_Skunk@Craig: Only if you're not interested in seeing it end.03/05/2015 - 9:27pm
Craig R.Instead of calling people the "anti gamergate faction", you could just call them "sane"03/05/2015 - 9:23pm
Goth_SkunkWhat do you mean 'almost every game in existence'? Card is a writer, not a game developer.03/05/2015 - 9:18pm
Andrew EisenBut I too wonder how many people who cry boycott actually follow through. I vaguely remember a few years ago a bunch of people boycotting one of the CoD games and were all found playing it on Steam.03/05/2015 - 7:53pm
Andrew EisenAn interesting quandary but not equivalent as boycotting games that Card was involved with leaves you with... well, almost every game in existence.03/05/2015 - 7:51pm
 

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