EMA 2013 Scholarship Applications Now Being Accepted

January 8, 2013 -

Applications for the scholarships to be awarded by the EMA Scholarship Foundation are due by March 1, 2013, the Entertainment Merchants Association announced this week. These academic scholarships will be awarded to employees of EMA-member companies and their immediate family members who plan on "undertaking undergraduate and graduate study on a full-time basis." Those selected for the scholarships will receive up to $6,000 total, which will be issued on an annual basis. More details below:

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Rhode Island Governor Intervenes as 38 Studios Struggles to Remain Solvent

May 15, 2012 -

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is probably not having a good week. The studio he founded, 38 Studios, is having serious financial trouble according to several news reports coming out of Rhode Island, and the state is doing what it can to protect the estimated $75 million in investments it spent to lure the studio away from Massachusetts.

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Abertday University Doles Out More Cash for Start-Ups

October 20, 2011 -

According to a Gamasutra report, the University of Abertay in Dundee, Scotland has invested £225,000 ($355,118 USD) in nine video game studios as part of its Abertay Prototype Fund. The fund is designed to support small start-up developers with staff costs related to new intellectual properties. The second round of funding awards £25,000 each to nine companies including Adamant Studios, Atomicom and Proper Games.

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iOS Publishers Are Buying Their Way Up the Charts, Says Future Games

October 7, 2011 -

Hungry Shark developer Future Games of London says that smaller iOS developers are being pushed out of the Apple App Store charts by larger publishers who are buying their way to the top of the list. Future Games MD Ian Harper claims that media companies are using a method called "Cost Per Install" to quickly drive downloads, improve rankings and increase visibility by hitting the top of the charts.

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Valve Considers Putting a Real-World Value on Players

May 16, 2011 -

In a recent Develop interview, Valve head honcho Gabe Newell said that his company is looking for new ways to charge customers. One of the more novel payment schemes involves a community member’s popularity. Apparently, if you are a social pariah in the Valve community, it may cost you more money if Newell's payment idea takes hold. Newell says that the "same price for everyone" model is a "bug."

"The industry has this broken model, which is one price for everyone. That's actually a bug, and it's something that we want to solve through our philosophy of how we create entertainment products."

Instead of basing the price on what a product is worth, Newell wants to base it on "what the player is worth."

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8-Bit Funding Opens for Business

January 24, 2011 -

A new crowdfunding website dedicated exclusively to the video game industry called 8-Bit Funding launches today. Much like Kickstarter.com, the site gives "investors" rewards and perks related to the game project in exchange for funding the project.

"The gaming community has always been independent and almost always supports an internal, exclusive community as opposed to a catch-all," says founder Geoff Gibson. "The idea behind 8-Bit Funding comes with this same idea. While there are similar websites out there, their broad focus immediately makes them less appealing to gamers and game developers who have to create a project and market it to a community who might not understand what an indie game even is."

The site launches with seven projects that need funding: Cardinal Quest, The Bookeeper, Dreamcasters’ Duel, Kung Fu Kingdom, Excruciating Guitar Voyage 2, Galactic Adventure, Inc. and One-Eyed Monsters.

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Michigan Developer First to Take Advantage of State's Incentives

November 23, 2010 -

Pixofactor Entertainment is being billed as the first game developer in Michigan to make use of the state’s incentive packages aimed at the film and interactive entertainment industries.

The Royal Oak-based company is set to begin work on a Ben Hogan videogame for the Nintendo Wii, part of a suite of Hogan-related products that will include mobile apps, an interactive website and a DVD. The application was submitted to the Michigan Film Office by BH Golfing Game Productions LLC.

The entire project has a budget of $2.7 million and iPhone and Wii games are scheduled for release by the 2011 holiday season. The company expects to hire an additional 20-30 artists, animators and programmers to back the green-lit project.

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Ireland to Scotland: All Your Game Devs Will Belong to Us

September 28, 2009 -

The Irish government thinks highly of the game development industry in Scotland. So much so that they are considering offering tax breaks to developers to lure them in an effort to jumpstart the economy in Ireland.

According to a report in Herald Scotland (via Gamasutra), the Irish government is targeting Realtime Worlds, creator of the upcoming MMO APB and based in Dundee, Scotland, with the possibility of a five-year tax "holiday." Other Scottish developers that could be affected by the incentive would be Rockstar North (developer of Grand Theft Auto), Ruffian (maker of Crackdown 2), Denki, Dynamo Games, Firebrand Games, and Outerlight.

Colin Macdonald, studio chief at Realtime Worlds, told the Herald:

“If the package on offer in Ireland was attractive we’d have to give it serious consideration. Dundee is a great place to be based, one of the main hubs for ­computer games in Britain, but at the end of the day we’ve got to look after our bottom line.”

Macdonald also said that Canada had made serious overtures to the company and Realtime had actually lost some of its key people to the Great White North.

Scotland is apparently monitoring the situation. Tiga, the UK trade body for game developers, urged the Scottish Parliament's support for a 20 percent tax break for game developers earlier this year, according to Gamasutra.

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UK Game Devs Group Says Tax Break Would Create 1,400 New Jobs

August 31, 2009 -

Government tax breaks would create 1,400 new jobs for the UK video game industry within five years, says game developers group TIGA.

The organization, which has been fighting hard for government incentives in recent times, made its claim in a report sent to the UK's Department of Culture, Media and Sport late last week.

The document, titled Investing in the Future, lamented the loss of skilled British developers to nations in which government incentives for video game studios already exist:

Games would need to pass a cultural test, scoring against criteria of European heritage and game locations, languages, innovation, narrative, and location of development and key development staff. 44% of UK made games profiled in an exercise for the report passed...

 

With 60-80 titles benefitting per year, the tax measure would assist UK game developers without distorting the larger European game development market...

 

The Games Tax Relief is expected over 5 years to create 1,400 new jobs in the studio sector, increasing investment by games studios by 146m, direct and indirect annual tax revenues by 133m and GDP contribution by 323m. By year 5, for every 100 of investment by government in the Games Tax Relief, the industry will invest 176.

In a forward to the TIGA report, Lord Puttnam (left), Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Computer and Video Games Industry, gave his strong support to the notion of a tax break:

For far too long the UK video games industry has been effectively taken for granted. To ensure the continuing success of this pre-eminently creative sector, I can only urge the Government to support TIGAs case for the introduction of a form of Games Tax Relief, as set out in this report.

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Indie Games Receive Canadian Government Grants

August 10, 2009 -

Telefilm Canada, a cultural agency of the Canadian government, has provided grant funding to several independent game projects, reports Gamasutra.

Recent recipients include DeathSpank ($536,069), a game under development by Ron Gilbert of Monkey Island fame and upcoming XBLA title Fez ($73,682) from Polytron.

Other recipients include N+, Eets Chowdown and It's Emotional.

The grants are considered "repayable advances," which means that they must be repaid out of profits. However, if a game loses money there is no requirement to repay. Releasing a title with both English and French versions scores a 10% discount on repayment


Group Hopes to Turn Philadelphia Into a Gaming Mecca

August 7, 2009 -

While other American cities and states have been courting the video game industry with incentives and tax breaks in recent years, Philadelphia has largely stood on the sidelines.

But, as Philadelphia City Paper reports, a small team is hoping to change that equation by convincing government officials that encouraging video game development would prevent brain drain and bring jobs and tax dollars to the local economy.

The Videogame Growth Initiative Philadelphia recently pitched its case to state government officials at a meeting in the City of Brotherly Love. From the City Paper's coverage:

The group has two hours to convince representatives of state government that it's worth creating new incentives to lure video game companies to Philly... 

 

Philly might be an ideal city to take advantage of this opportunity. Currently, many video game studios are based out of Silicon Valley, Boston or New York. Philly's comparably low cost of living is attractive. What's more... Philly has... [at] the University of Pennsylvania... the only Ivy League game development program in the country, and graduates are routinely poached by large West Coast-based gaming companies...

There are, however, significant obstacles. The Pennsylvania legislature hasn't been able to reach agreement on a budget which should have been in place by July 1st. The city of Philadelphia itself is habitually in dire financial straits; earlier this week Mayor Michael Nutter warned that he may have to lay off more than a thousand cops and fire fighters.

While state officials suggested that the group try to push already-existing business incentives to entice video game firms, VGI member Hardik Bhatt, himself a developer, was skeptical:

That's still not enough, it's not like other cities don't have these kinds of incentives. I'm hoping it doesn't take a [video game] studio to look into the city and decide to go somewhere else for them to change their minds.

GP: As a Philly native, I pondered the same issue in a November, 2006 column for Joystiq...

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Should Ontario-Ubi Deal Include Game Addiction Education Piece?

July 15, 2009 -

Recent news that the government of Ontario plans to grant $263 million to assist video game publishing giant Ubisoft in the creation of a game development studio in Toronto has generated a good bit of controversy.

Supporters maintain that Ontario is investing in job creation while critics see a government handout to a company that is profitable, foreign and in the business of creating violent games.

But Brad D. of ExGamer.net looks at the deal from the game addiction perspective. In last week's podcast, Brad comments on the new marriage between Ubisoft game makers and Ontario bureaucrats:

The government of Ontario has just made a massive investment in the firm Ubisoft... When we see massive infusion of cash, let's say in... casinos, we always see that matched with public education programs around the potential dangers of excessive gambling...

 

When I see a quarter-billion dollars being invested by the government in the video game industry, it raises a couple of eyebrows. While I'm thrilled to see jobs in any industry that will be high-paid and lasting, I am concerned that the government is not matching that with some kind of investment in education on the risks of excessive [video game] usage.

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ELSPA Head Details New Strategy For Lobbying UK Government

July 13, 2009 -

Michael Rawlinson (left), who heads British game publishers group ELSPA, details his organization's new - and apparently successful - approach to dealing with the U.K.'s government bureaucracy in a guest column for MCVUK.

Despite some difficult recent years in which most of the political dialogue on video games in the U.K. involved criticism of game violence, the British game biz has scored some big wins of late. Most notable among these was the government's recent adoption of the PEGI content rating system favored by the industry.

At its core, ELSPA's strategy seems to involve working both harder and smarter. Rawlinson writes:

PEGI’s ascent to becoming the sole ratings system for games was a momentous achievement for the industry – and just goes to show how we can really get the Government’s attention when we get our approach right.

 

We’ve deliberately become more professional in terms of our dealings with Government. We’re strategically planning what we do – we don’t just bowl up to meetings, answer questions then leave.

We not only had to convince Government... we also took our arguments much wider, taking in the whole of Westminster, as well as the devolved parliament in Scotland and the regional assembly in Wales as well as the European parliament. Retailers, children’s charities and more were also covered. All of these groups had different needs we had to meet...

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Ontario Govt. Slammed for Funding Violent Games in Ubisoft Deal

July 13, 2009 -

The unprecedented $263 million grant with which the Ontario government enticed Ubisoft to open a new game development studio in Toronto has drawn its share of fire since it was announced last week.

Most of the criticism has focused on the economics of the deal and the idea of giving away so much taxpayer money to an already-profitable, foreign company.

This morning, columnist Andrew Dreschel of the Hamilton Spectator takes a few shots at the money angle, but also slams the government of Premier Dalton McGuinty for essentially funding the creation of violent video games:

If using tax dollars to assist a foreign private-sector company is an iffy proposition, the thread becomes even more frayed when you look at some of the games in Ubisoft's roster.

Assassin's Creed enables players to experience the thrill of murdering people in Renaissance Italy. Red Steel allows you to feel the power and freedom of slaying your enemies with bullet and blade.

Call Of Juarez lets you use your gunslinging skills and arsenal of deadly weapons to kill anyone who stands in your way. America's Army: Rise Of A Soldier thrusts you into the role of a sniper assigned to kill enemy officers...

The McGuinty government's investment is offering concrete support and official blessings to amoral games that both glorify and trivialize violence and, arguably, contribute to anti-social behaviour -- all in the name of business.

GP: In the pic, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty (right) and Ubisoft CEO Yannis Mallat seal the $263 million deal...

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Columnist Attacks Ubisoft Toronto Deal

July 11, 2009 -

The recent news that the government of Ontario would fork over $263 million to Ubisoft for a new studio in Toronto remains controversial. In today's Globe & Mail columnist Marcus Gee is beside himself over the decision:

With a budget deficit of $18.5-billion, your provincial government is strapped - but not so strapped that it can't find a quarter of a billion in the pocket lint to pay some Frenchmen to set up a new video-game studio...

 

Ubisoft executives say they are in love with Toronto... But game developers are a footloose bunch, jumping from place to place in search of talent and government handouts... Who is to say they won't jump across the pond when the [U.K.] tax picture changes. Or when currency-exchange rates make Canada less desirable...

 

That quarter-billion has to come from somewhere, much of it from good Toronto businesses that don't have the buzz factor... Their tax burden will rise, and their business will suffer, while the cool kids in the video-game industry collect government cheques.

Meanwhile, David Olive at The Star seems cautiously optimistic about the Ubisoft deal:

Corporate welfare is tough to justify at the best of times... Could there be better uses of public money than developing the next generation of Assassin's Creed... And at a cost of $329,000 for each of the up to 800 workers to be employed by the new Ubisoft Toronto?

On balance, the investment is probably wise...

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Louisiana Guv Signs Game Biz Tax Breaks Into Law

July 10, 2009 -

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has signed into law a package of tax breaks designed to bolster video game production in the state, according to the Associated Press.

Jindal also approved several other bills providing tax breaks to non-game related sectors. While some critics have questioned the wisdom of giving up state tax revenue in a troubled economy, Jindal referred to the incentives as "critical tools":

By signing these bills, we're ensuring that we not only have the ability to remain economically competitive, but that we can continue to move our state forward by making Louisiana the greatest place in the world to find a great paying job and raise a family.

A press release on Gov. Jindal's website offers a bit of information on the video game bill:

SB 277 by Sen. Ann Duplessis is similar to Governor’s package bill HB 457, which extends and expands the Digital Interactive Media Tax Credit by permanently extending and increasing the credit by 5 percent creating a single rate of 25 percent of expenditures plus an additional 10 percent for Louisiana resident payroll expenditures (35 percent total credit for resident payroll). The bill also expands the definition of digital media to include technology companies.

UPDATE: Game publishers lobbying group ESA issued a press release praising Jindal for signing the tax break into law. ESA boss Mike Gallagher's commented:

We commend Governor Jindal for his strong leadership as well as that of Senator Duplessis for expanding the state’s computer and video game development and production base, and helping lead the way in creating the next generation of entertainment innovation in Louisiana.

 

Developers and publishers live and work for years in states where games are created, providing a higher return on investment than any form of entertainment.

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Writer Argues That Ubisoft Toronto Deal is Good For Ontario

July 9, 2009 -

In yesterday's GamePolitics coverage we took note of an editorial in Canada's National Post which slammed the Ontario government's recent announcement that it would grant Ubisoft $263 million for the publisher's new Toronto studio.

Canadian blogger Eli Green offers the opposite view, however, claiming that the deal is a good one for Ontario because it will boost the local economy. In an opinion piece for Comic Book Bin Green writes:

To begin wit... Torontonians, or anyone else from the general vicinity, looking for a position with the [Ubisoft] will no longer have to make the... six hour jaunt to Quebec... That means more talent stays within Ontario, which, naturally, is beneficial for the province as a whole.

There is something far more important happening here though... an investment of this magnitude, in this industry, from the government of Ontario was long overdue... If the government plays its cards right, the Ontario video game development community should continue to grow and thrive, giving a nice boost to the economy, and local talent will continue to be just that – local.

It's not just important news for Ubisoft, it's important news for Ontario.

GP: In the pic, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty (right) and Ubisoft CEO Yannis Mallat seal the deal...

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Finland's Game Biz Received €10m In Government Funding

July 8, 2009 -

The government of Finland awarded €10 million to video game firms in 2008, reports Develop.

The funding was distributed by Tekes, the government's technology funding body. Mari Isbom, an advisor to the agency, told Develop: 

Tekes has identified games as a strategically important research and development area and thus one of the key focus areas. Around €10 million were targeted for game companies in 2008 via the Verso programme.

Games like Max Payne and Flatout 2 were developed in Finland, which is also home to Habbo Hotel and N-Gage manufacturer Nokia.

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Editorial Slams Ontario's $263m Grant to Ubisoft for New Studio

July 8, 2009 -

When Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty (left) announced on Monday that the provincial government planned to give $263 million to Ubisoft to offset the cost of opening a new game studio in Toronto, some eyebrows were raised.

Game industry types seemed understandably pleased, but an editorial in the National Post expresses shock and dismay over the amount of money involved and the fact the that those funds are going to a highly profitable company:

Ontario gives $263 million to company that makes $111 million in profit. Smart. Weren't we supposed to have learned something from the recession? Apparently not...

It’s bad enough that companies with terrible balance sheets get cash from taxpayers, but encouraging software companies that make money to play the same game is something else again. If you're losing money, Ontario wants to support you. If you're making money, Ontario wants to support you.

Commenters to the editorial were, by and large, not receptive to the plan, either.

- Soooo, do the math: That's 80 jobs per year. At a cost to the taxpayer of........ wait for it......................... $328,750 EACH !!  WHAT A "DEAL" !!

 

- Let's call a spade a spade: Ontario liberals pissing away $300.000 per job created. You know what? I am not paying any more taxes. That's it... Why paying taxes, if everything I pay is getting just given away to the foreign businesses? I'd rather move to Honduras...

A few commenters, like the one below lauded the deal, however:

The author of this article clearly misses the point.  The $263M "invested" by the Ontario government are in the form of tax breaks over ten year as an incentive to set up shop here, so no cash outlay.  Further, the tax breaks are kind of a moot point since these taxes wouldn't have been paid anyway had UbiSoft not set up shop.  The fact that they're spending $500M to open a studio, clearly they'll be here for a while, thus creating more jobs... 

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Canadian Provinces Compete Over Ubisoft Co-Founder's Game Studio

July 7, 2009 -

The Canadian province of Prince Edward Island is currently home to an office of Longtail Studios, a development house started by Ubisoft co-founder Gerard Guillemot.

But, as reported by CBC, the firm is apparently relocating to Nova Scotia. Last week all 23 employees were offered comparable positions in a proposed new location in Halifax. P.E.I., however, is not giving Longtail up without a fight.

Innovation Minister Allan Campbell told CBC:

I am concerned with the possible loss of these positions on P.E.I. I've asked staff in my department to put together a package that is attractive to the company and that incites them to remain here on P.E.I.

Why Nova Scotia in particular has targeted this particular company, I'm not sure about that.

A package of tax breaks and subsidies which P.E.I. previously granted to Longtail expires later this year. Campbell said that talks aimed at keeping the developer in the province have been ongoing.

Longtail, which primarily develops games for mobile platforms, is based in New York City. According to its website, the developer also has maintains an office in Quebec City.

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Mass. Effect: State Legislator Wants Tax Credits for Game Developers

July 7, 2009 -

A Massachusetts legislator hopes to extend the state's tax credit for movie production to video game developers.

To that end, Rep. John Binienda (D, left) has proposed H.2690. The measure will be debated tomorrow in the State House.

Of his bill, Binienda told NECN:

It's basically just tax credits to keep this industry here. It's to bring jobs here, keep jobs here, and stimulate economic development.

 

The idea here is that if you could make some tax credits and some tax breaks, that not only could you get your degree here, but you could work here to keep the best and the brightest minds here, in the [video game development] field.

Passage of Binienda's bill appears uncertain at this point given that some of his legislative colleagues have expressed concerns about giving up tax revenue in the current economic climate. A similar measure failed to pass in 2008.

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Ontario Govt. Will Sink $263 Million into New Ubisoft Studio

July 6, 2009 -

The provincial government of Ontario will make a massive investment into a new Ubisoft studio, reports Toronto's National Post.

Premier Dalton McGuinty (Left) announced today that Ontario will sink $263 million into Ubisoft Toronto over the next 10 years. Ubisoft itself plans to invest more than $500 million in the project.

A projected increase of 800 jobs is a large part of the Ontario government's motivation to invest in the new studio, which will be Ubisoft's fourth in Canada. Said McGuinty:

Our world is one where you can borrow capital, you can copy technology and you can buy natural resources. But to build a high wage and a high standard of living you need talent. By investing in Ubisoft, we're building Ontario's economy now and for the future.

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Basing Tax Breaks on Culture Test is Problematic, Says Head of Euro Game Devs

July 6, 2009 -

France and England both mandate that video game projects be culturally relevant in order to qualify for financial incentives. But the head of the European Game Developers Federation told gamesindustry.biz that such requirements make little sense either culturally or as a matter of economic policy.

Guillaume de Fondaumiere (left), who is also an exec with Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream, spoke to gi.biz at the recent GameHorizon conference:

The cultural test is a problem... When you look at [European Union] rules, you have to ask: 'Actually, what is culture?' It's a national decision, so it's kind of weird that we, as the videogame industry, have to work with standards that other cultural areas don't have to follow.

To me, all games are cultural. Videogames aren't just a form of entertainment, but a true form of cultural expression, and I think that in twenty years' time this will be a given. No one will dispute that any more...

We know that tax breaks are extremely effective in stimulating an industry, and I think again that Montreal and Quebec have shown us the way...

So I think it's high time for governments, and the EU, to understand that money given in the form of tax breaks to the industry is not money thrown away. It's an investment with a very high return, so it's time that we had those breaks.

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British MP: Not Many Govt. Ministers Rush Home to Play GTA

June 29, 2009 -

The Member of Paliament who chairs a bipartisan working on the British video game business told Edge Online that most of his colleagues are more conversant with other forms of media.

In his chat with EO MP John Whittingdale dished on a variety of game-related topics from the recent Digital Britain report to broadband speeds to a new requirement that games be culturally British in order to qualify for tax breaks. The thoughtful comments offered by the Conservative MP indicate that he has devoted some time to researching the role of games in British society. Among his remarks:

The case for some kind of incentive to make sure that the UK remains one of the major locations for games development [is] something that needs to be pressed quickly, because the longer we leave it, the greater risk there will be a steady loss of jobs to places like Canada...

 

There’s definitely an educational component. I think it does no harm for policy makers who are going to be debating issues affecting the games industry to have some experience of videogames. If that means developers and publishers coming into the House of Commons, demonstrating them, and giving MPs a sense of what the game involves, that has to be a good thing.

 

My guess would be that very few ministers in the government spend a great deal of time playing computer games, whereas they do go to the cinema, they do watch television, and they do listen to the radio... there may be ministers who rush home to play GTA all night, but it’s unlikely...

Given the age of most MPs, they’re probably thinking back to Space Invaders and Atari consoles. The other thing is that there’s a lot of negativity around, a lot of concern that young people who spend their hours gaming are missing out on educational activities. The case that gaming can bring benefits is something we need to promote, and then there’s always been the fear that somehow certain games may be damaging because of the violent content, and there’s a lot of mythology around that...

 

A game like Manhunt 2... we need to impose controls to ensure that children cannot purchase them. But then there’s the hysteria over something like the suicide bomber web game Kaboom, which everyone got very worked up about. When I went online and tried it out, the idea that this was going to turn the nation into suicide bombers was clearly absurd...

 

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No Tax, Please. We're British: UK Game Biz Tax Breaks Have Cultural Strings Attached

June 17, 2009 -

British game developers have been lobbying for tax breaks some time. And, based on yesterday's release of the Digital Britain report, the Government seems to finally be listening.

But, as reported by The Guardian, tax breaks proposed for game developers by Lord Carter's report may come with cultural strings attached:

The [Digital Britain] report also contains the fascinating sentence in its executive summary...: "The Government has therefore committed to work with the industry to collect and review the evidence for a tax relief to promote the sustainable production for online or physical sale of culturally British video games.

Culturally British. We suspect we know what they mean - games companies based in the UK - but what if it's not? What if they actually mean something like, for example and completely hypothetically, Grand Theft Auto: Weston-super-Mare?

Or Left 4 Dead: The Light Brigade?

Come on, what would you suggest as a "culturally British" computer game that we could offer to Lord Carter?

GP: Actually, there are some precedents for the cultural requirement recommended by Digital Britain. As GamePolitics reported in 2007, France imposed a similar restriction. The French Government requires that game projects seeking tax breaks have a "cultural dimension."

In the U.S., the state of Texas has content-based restrictions on its game and movie subsidies.

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Korean Govt. Gets Behind Serious Games

May 20, 2009 -

The Korean government will invest 80 billion won (US$63.52 million) to support the country's growing serious games business, reports Korea IT Times.

If successful, Korea will expand its serious games market by a factor of six by 2012. Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Yu In-chon commented:

The functional game market is at an early stage, but the market is an emerging blue ocean. The government is going to give support to prompt private investment in that field.

Mervyn Levin of the U.K.'s Serious Games Institute reports on a 2008 visit to Seoul where he observed some of the Korean serious game projects in development:

An interesting Korean Serious Games project was presented by T3 Entertainment on anti-bullying, a subject of obvious relevance to the UK. The title was "Online 'Star Stone' Development for Improvement of Personal Relations".

South Korean University research was also presented demonstrating evidence of the relationship between on-line games and the development of leadership skills in the workplace...

Via: gamesindustry.biz

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In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has Implications for Game Developers

May 19, 2009 -

Tax breaks and other government incentives for developers are a terrific benefit to the video game industry. But, as GamePolitics has previously reported, in Texas they come with strings attached, allowing the state to withhold funding based on the content of a project.

Those strings have now reared their ugly head, at least for one filmmaker.

The Waco Tribune-Herald reports that Texas Film Commission Director Bob Hudgins has denied funding to the producers of Waco, a film project based on the 1993 shootout and subsequent standoff at the Branch Davidian compound:

Hudgins [said] he made the decision after reviewing the script and talking with journalists and law enforcement people involved in the incident.

Under the provisions of the recently enacted Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, state financial incentives can’t go to film, video or video game projects that inaccurately depict the state or actual events in the state.

An earlier report suggested that the incentives were blocked due to “opposition from an unnamed state senator.” However, Hudgins denied that, saying that the decision was his.

The producers have suggested they may relocate to neighboring Louisiana, where state incentives have no such content restrictions.

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Louisiana Legislators Mull Retention of Game Biz Tax Breaks

April 27, 2009 -

Jack Thompson's recently-introduced bill isn't the only video game issue under consideration by Louisiana lawmakers.

As reported by the Shreveport Times, legislators will consider whether to renew tax incentives for video game, movie and other digital media firms. 

Rep. Barbara Norton (D, at eft) argues in favor of retaining such incentives:

EA Sports... is planning to open an office in the Baton Rouge area because of the digital tax credit. EA Sports will bring high paying jobs and provide an economic boost to the Baton Rouge economy...

We should keep our state incentives to attract high paying, high tech jobs... The Texas legislature is introducing tax incentives to try and pull more film productions from Shreveport back to Texas. Right now Texas cannot compete with us as to incentives Louisiana offers... however they are trying to fix that now.

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) reportedly favors maintaining tax breaks for digital media producers.

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Texas Guv Puts Secession Plans on Hold, Signs Game Biz Tax Break

April 23, 2009 -

When not making bizarre references to seceding from the United States, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is  good friend to the video game industry.

The Guv, who delivered last year's E3 keynote in Los Angeles, today signed into law HB 873. The bill increases the amount of state grants available to video game, film and other digital media production companies.

As reported by the San Marcos Daily Record, Perry was enthusiatic about the legislation at the bill signing ceremony:

With this legislation, we are strengthening our state’s investment in a vital industry that not only shows off our state to the rest of the world, but also draws investment and creates jobs for Texans.

ESA CEO Mike Gallagher praised Perry via press release:

I commend Governor Rick Perry and the Texas state legislature for recognizing the contributions that the video game industry already has made in the state, and for acting quickly and decisively to ensure that the industry has the opportunity to reach its full potential. Today, Texas showed its strong willingness to stay competitive with other states that are seeking to attract video game developers and publishers.

KVUE has a video report on the bill signing.

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Game Developers Lament Lack of Support in U.K. Budget Plan

April 23, 2009 -

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling (left) has put forth a budget for the U.K. but game developers are not happy about his plans.

Edge Online reports that Richard Wilson, head of developers' group Tiga, blasted Darling's proposal for failing to provide what Wilson views as adequate financial incentives for U.K. game creators:

This Budget conspicuously fails to back one of the principal creative industries of the future – games development. It is disappointing that while [Darling] plans to spend £671 billion over the coming financial year... he could not find the £150 million over five years to invest in the tax break for games production.

The Government has missed a trick. Video games are a growing sector and the UK games development sector is still world beating. The Government should have used today’s Budget to reinforce success and introduced a tax break for games production...

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Andrew EisenHeck, it would probably sell better to newbies anyway. Even with its awesome art direction, the game looked dated when it came out years ago. I imagine an SD version would be a tougher sell.08/01/2014 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenBecause it would be cool, would serve the game's fantastic art direction well and encourage people who've already played it to buy it again.08/01/2014 - 7:42pm
ZippyDSMleeWhy bother with an HD relese just repack the damn thing and promote it since it will play on the WIIU anyway....08/01/2014 - 7:04pm
Andrew EisenPlus, with Nintendo carrying the Wii U almost all by itself, it could help plug one of the unfortunately inevitable release schedule gaps.08/01/2014 - 3:23pm
Andrew EisenAn HD re-release would be cool though. It's a great game (and quite the looker, especially when up-rezzed) and more people should play it (the game had a limited release at a time when the Wii was all but dead an buried).08/01/2014 - 3:21pm
E. Zachary KnightSo no, people are not going to need to play the Wii game to undstand or enjoy the Wii U game.08/01/2014 - 1:27pm
E. Zachary KnightFrom what I understand, the two games have as much to do with eachother as Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy 2.08/01/2014 - 1:26pm
MaskedPixelanteIt's my secret hope that Nintendo announces Xenoblade HD to be released in the leadup to Xenoblade Chronicles X, or at least a mass market version of the first game so that people aren't going into this one blind.08/01/2014 - 12:40pm
PHX CorpI'm going to do a test stream later today, if anyone is intrested07/31/2014 - 2:40pm
Andrew EisenYes, I'm such a big Nintendo dork that I read Nintendo's quarterly financial reports.07/31/2014 - 2:09pm
Andrew EisenCool tidbit - Mario Kart 8 sales account for more than half of total Wii U software sales for the last quarter even though it was only available for the last third.07/31/2014 - 2:09pm
Andrew EisenStill a pretty cool promotion. Unfortunately for me, I'm not interested in purchasing Mario Kart 8 and I already owned or didn't want any of the free games on offer.07/31/2014 - 1:43pm
Andrew EisenInteresting that EU had 10 games to choose from while North America only had four.07/31/2014 - 1:41pm
MaskedPixelanteIt certainly worked, I probably would never have bought Mario Kart 8 if it didn't come with a free copy of Wind Waker HD.07/31/2014 - 1:14pm
Andrew EisenI imagine will see similar promotions like "Buy Mario Kart 8 get a download code for one of these specific games" but almost certainly not for all of its (however you would define) biggest releases.07/31/2014 - 11:24am
MaskedPixelanteI wonder if Nintendo is going to be doing "buy one get one free" promos for all their biggest releases going forward.07/31/2014 - 10:48am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/special-report-retail-revolt-over-pc-code-strippers/013614007/31/2014 - 8:27am
ZippyDSMleeWouldn't they be able to afford and get done in a timely manner a general gba emluator for the 3DS? It seems to me if they want to make money off sales they need to do it.07/31/2014 - 7:25am
Sora-ChanAmbassador program, that's what I was looking for. Anyway the other games that have been made no longer exclusive to the early adopters got updates in their software. It'll only be a matter of time more than likely for the GBA to get the same treatment.07/31/2014 - 5:35am
Sora-ChanI might be naming it incorrectly when I say "founder" i mean the program for earlier adopters.07/31/2014 - 5:34am
 

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