Report: Zynga Seeking Tax Incentives from San Francisco

March 25, 2011 -

According to a Market Watch report, Farmville maker Zynga is seeking a tax break from the city of San Francisco to keep its offices open there. The social game developer said that it is "encouraged" by ongoing negotiations with local government over the future of its San Francisco headquarters. Market Watch claims that Zynga recently threatened to leave the city if it did not receive tax exemptions similar to those recently given to Twitter.

A spokesperson for the company admitted to GameIndustry.biz that it is engaged in "serious discussions" with city officials, though it declined to comment further.

Zynga moved into its current location in September of last year and has space for around 2000 employees at the site, according to GI.biz.

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Amazon vs. The World

March 17, 2011 -

Retailers have been gunning for amazon.com for a long time and have tried in the past to use political muscle to "put them on a level playing field." When I say "level playing field," what that translates to in the eyes of retailers is "force them to pay state sales tax." Retailers have lamented that it is unfair that they have to make their customers pay sales tax while Amazon does not.

Now brick-and-mortar retailers have a new weapon to take on Amazon - the Alliance for Main Street Fairness. The group is pushing hard to change sales-tax laws in more than a dozen states including Texas and California. Before the group was associated with smaller, local businesses. Now it has the backing of retailers like Target, Best Buy Co., Home Depot, Sears, and Wal-Mart.

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Report: Square Enix Negotiating Canadian Tax Deal for Future Studio

March 16, 2011 -

Square-Enix plans to open a new studio with over a hundred employees in 2012, somewhere in Canada. The maker of Final Fantasy is reportedly negotiating with the governments of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Whichever location offers the best tax incentives package will get a new Square Enix Studio that expects to employ over one-hundred new employees. Square Enix already has a studio in Montreal - which it acquired when it bought Eidos in 2009. But that doesn't mean Square Enix is giving the edge to that locale:

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Tiga Forms Casual Division

March 15, 2011 -

UK trade group Tiga has announced that it has established a new division to support the growing legions of casual and social game developers in the region. The group that represents the UK's game development industry says that the new division can help studios network, develop strategic partnerships, identify trends in the market and offer discounts on software and tools when possible.

The group has also opened a ‘Casual Games Committee’, designed to "support companies creating games of all formats with production budgets between £10,000 and £300,000." Tiga added that this move is a response to “exponential growth in casual gaming platforms" in the region. Tiga members working on a casual game can apply to join, as long as their game's budget is within the previously stated guidelines.

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New Tiga Report Calls for Better R&D Tax Credits

March 9, 2011 -

UK games industry trade group TIGA today published a new report called "Powering a high technology recovery: proposals for improving R&D tax credits," which continues to urge the government to improve the research and development tax credit to better support the interactive entertainment industry.

The report focuses on how the R&D tax credits system can be improved for the UK games industry. TIGA says that its proposals for the R&D tax credits would "deliver 60 - 75 percent more value to games studios than the current R&D tax credit regime." This, it says would enable studios to invest more in R&D, generate and retain new IP, and hire more development staff.

TIGA offers the following key proposals:

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CCP Plans Expansion, Staff Growth in Georgia

February 25, 2011 -

EVE Online owners CCP announced that it plans to relocate 150 people to a new U.S. studio in Decatur, Georgia. The company has a studio in Georgia already but plans to shift personnel to a 40,000-square-foot facility in Decatur. The company's long-term goal for the facility is to add an additional 150 developers by 2013.

Besides working on Eve Online related projects, CCP Games is developing two new original properties: World of Darkness and DUST 514.

"Decatur offers the perfect blend of big city accessibility with a hometown feel that we were looking for," said CCP North America president Mike Tinney. "Georgia’s financial climate combined with Decatur’s social climate provide the ideal conditions for continued growth."

Georgia is a popular state with the entertainment industry due to its generous tax breaks and pro-business attitude.

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Michigan Governor Targets Entertainment Industry Tax Breaks

February 21, 2011 -

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has proposed a new budget that severely limits the amount of tax bonuses to game developers and other entertainment enterprises that want to operate out of the state. Under the new budget, tax rebates that currently cover up to 42 percent of an entertainment company’s tax expenditures would be limited to an annual cap of $25 million.

The tax incentive program was introduced in 2008 to much fanfare. Since that time nearly 130 entertainment projects have received an estimated $648 million in tax savings. The governor is targeting the tax incentive plan to make up for a $1.4 billion budget gap. He claims that lower corporate tax rates for all companies would probably be a better idea for the state and for companies in general.

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Axis Animation: Level Playing Field Not Possible in UK Even with Tax Relief

January 31, 2011 -

In an interview on GameIndustry.biz Axis Animation Managing Director Richard Scott said that - even with tax breaks in the UK - it would be impossible to create a "level playing field" with the international development community. Scott explained to GI.biz that because his company works across the mediums (games, film and TV) he was able to see the effects of the UK's positive tax environment. He says that if tax relief ever becomes a reality for the game industry, the government needs to offer incentives that help "local creatives" and not attract international companies.

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Harvard Professor: Mass. Targeted Industry Subsidies Unfair

January 28, 2011 -

The Boston Herald offers an editorial on state representative Vincent Pedone's proposal to offer tax breaks to the game industry in Massachusetts. The author, Edward L. Glaeser (professor of economics at Harvard University and author of the forthcoming book "The Triumph of the City"), compares it to the disastrous results of Evergreen Solar and ponders aloud if this is all "throwing good money after bad?"

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Texas Business Incentives Help Create 1,700 Jobs

January 4, 2011 -

A new report from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (an analysis of Texas economic development Initiatives) shows that the video game industry has created well over a thousand jobs in the last two years. This is due mostly to the state's Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, which offers incentives to the film, television, commercial, and video game industries.

The report found that the state’s incentive program (enacted in 2007 and expanded in 2009) contributed to the computer and video game industry’s growth in Texas by helping to create an estimated 1,700 jobs between April 2009 and August 2010. The incentive program provides grants for "qualifying productions" including movies, television shows, commercials, and computer and video games that create jobs for Texas residents. Other states have followed the state's initiatives with similar programs including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

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Massachusetts Gets Serious About Video Game Industry

December 22, 2010 -

Becker College administrators, elected officials and other interested parties want the video game industry to grow in Massachusetts. A recent series of pitches at the Southboro, Mass.-campus attempted to kick start the process at the college level. Through education and tax credits and other incentives at the state level, Massachusetts can be a more attractive location for game companies, echoed many of the speakers.

To that end, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray announced at the conference held at Becker College this week that a campus-based policy and research institute will be established.

Over the next 90 days, state officials and administrators at the college will work to establish that institute. Murray said the state would also work toward implementing a broader plan to support the video game industry.

"We think there's a unique opportunity right now to begin work on this comprehensive statewide plan," Mr. Murray said.

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Grants for Gaming Make Government Waste List

December 21, 2010 -

A list called "Government Waste: 20 Of The Craziest Things That The U.S. Government Is Spending Money On" finds several projects funded by the government related to video games. Of course lists that are considered "waste" by some groups actually have a deeper purpose than what is listed in the descriptions, but the people that put this particular list together (I hope) would know that.

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Zombies, Atlanta, and Tax Credits

December 8, 2010 -

Menue Americas Corporation launches its new free-to-play online video game, Zombie Mosh on Facebook and takes advantage of Georgia Entertainment Industry Incentive Act. The Georgia Entertainment Industry Incentive Act gives "qualifying" game developers and publishers a transferrable 20 percent base tax credit on all "qualified expenditures" within the state, such as labor, materials and services. The Act gives an additional 10 percent tax credit if the company promotes the state by placing a Georgia promotional logo in the video game.

Zombie Mosh's creators are not the only zombie-related action in town - Atlanta is also home to AMC's new zombie-themed TV series The Walking Dead.

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Report: ESLPA Expressed Concern During Tax Break Talk with UK Government

December 8, 2010 -

A four-page expose put together by GameIndustry.biz reveals that ELSPA -- the trade group representing the interactive entertainment industry in the UK -- may have quietly been working against tax breaks. While it sounds like a nefarious, under-handed scenario - and one that may have inadvertently sent a mixed signal to the government at the time - the group had its reasons.

While the industry continually lobbied the government last year to provide tax breaks and other business support, ELSPA aired a number of concerns it had with the government over "cultural tax breaks." ELSPA apparently warned the government against such tax breaks, instead urging them to offer the industry 'software' tax breaks.

The difference between the two is vast:

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UK Game Industry Tax Break 'Four Years Away'

December 3, 2010 -

UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport minister Ed Vaizey said at a recent meeting that tax breaks for the UK games industry could be a long ways away. Speaking recently at DCMS select committee meeting, MP Vaizey said that tax incentives for the interactive entertainment industry could be off the table for three to four years. He also said that he would encourage trade group TIGA to look for alternatives to tax incentives for the industry.

When asked if tax incentives were completely off the table, Vaizey said that he would "encourage TIGA in particular to look at other creative options."

Those other options include "regional growth funds" and direct support from the government - specifically the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Source: GameSpot UK

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MP Watson: Decision to Kill Games Tax Relief “Reprehensible”

November 23, 2010 -

Pro-gaming MP Tom Watson still can’t believe the UK government reneged on a promise to deliver tax relief to the country’s interactive entertainment developers.

As detailed in the Independent, Watson a Labour MP representing West Bromwich East, used a gathering of game developers to call the coalition government’s decision to kill tax relief a “reprehensible decision based on ignorance.”

Watson said that the move will cost jobs, adding, “I just hope it doesn't break the industry.”

Continuing, the MP, who started his own Facebook group in order to champion games late last year, said:

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Green Bay Developer Reaps WI Tax Incentive

November 17, 2010 -

Wisconsin’s Film Tax Credit Program is paying off for one Green Bay-based developer.

Self-described “punk rock” game development company Frozen Codebase will receive $35,315 in tax credits according to a release issued by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. The developer, which has two current teams made up of 29 employees total, will receive the funds for its work on a currently-in-production videogame, which has a total project budget of $141,257.

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle stated “I am pleased that we could assist Frozen Codebase, LLC in expanding its products,” adding, “Projects like these ensure that we develop the infrastructure and skills necessary for the entertainment industry to thrive in Wisconsin.”

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Federal Funds Back Illinois Disaster Preparedness Game

November 16, 2010 -

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has released a free, downloadable videogame that is designed to teach youngsters disaster preparedness.

The Day the Earth Shook poses the scenario of an earthquake occurring along the New Madrid or Wabash Valley Seismic Zones in southern Illinois.

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Can You Balance The U.S. Budget?

November 15, 2010 -

The New York Times has created an online "game" that allows you to tackle the U.S. budget deficit by creating a plan of your own. When you are done implementing the plan, you can see how it actually will affect the deficit - if at all. I haven't tried it personally, but Gawker mucked around with it by moving tax levels back to the Clinton era and getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan. They claim that did the trick. Here is the lead-in from the NYT:

"Today, you’re in charge of the nation’s finances. Some of your options have more short-term savings and some have more long-term savings. When you have closed the budget gaps for both 2015 and 2030, you are done. Make your own plan, then share it online."

You can play Mr. -- or Mrs. FixIt by visiting the NYT. Thanks Gawker.

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Michigan’s Film Incentives, Do They Work?

November 15, 2010 -

An issue paper published by Michigan’s Senate Fiscal Agency examined the state’s film incentive program and stated that the economic enticements “represent lost revenue and do not generate sufficient private sector activity to offset their costs completely.”

Authored by economist David Zin, the paper (PDF) imparts a belief that tax breaks (which also apply to videogame makers) have “generally exhibited” a positive impact on the private sector, at least in terms of creating jobs and generating income, he added, “Any probable impact from the film incentives is likely to have a negligible impact on economic activity in Michigan, particularly when the economy is viewed as a whole.”

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UK May Simplify Corporate Taxes in Lieu of Games Tax Relief

November 4, 2010 -

During another round of Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in Parliament, the subject of Games Tax Relief for interactive developers was once again broached with Prime Minister David Cameron (pictured).

This time around it was Labour MP Jim McGovern who asked about the tax breaks. Cameron responded that the government is looking into simplifying the corporation tax regime to bring it down to 24%, which would make Britain “one of the best places in the world to do business.”

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Cameron: “Difficult Decision,” but UK Tax Breaks had to be Nixed

October 28, 2010 -

During a recent "Prime Minister’s Questions" session,  Labour MP Luciana Berger took the opportunity to question Prime Minister David Cameron (pictured) about the UK government’s decision to not institute tax relief measures for local developers.

Berger, who represents Liverpool Wavertree, stated, according to Develop, “Before the election all three parties pledged to introduce a videogames tax relief to compete internationally on a level playing-field,” before she asked the PM, “Why has the government reneged on that promise?"

Cameron began answering by stating that the government had to make “difficult decisions.”

He continued:

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As THQ Selects Montreal for New Studio, TIGA Laments Lost Opportunity

October 19, 2010 -

Game industry group TIGA is using comments from a THQ executive to further press for tax relief for the videogame industry in the UK.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, THQ Executive VP Danny Bilson called the talent in the UK “extraordinary,” and while he would love to see his company build a new studio in the region, it won’t happen anytime soon because “it's all about money at the end of the day.”

THQ opted instead to build a new 400-employee studio in Montreal, where it will receive tax breaks of 37.5 cents for every dollar spent on labor costs, which Bilson called a "huge win" and would enable the developer to "put more on the screen."

Bilson added:

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Scotland's Abertay University Lobbies for Game Biz Backing

October 13, 2010 -

The director of business development of Dundee, Scotland-based Abertay University appeared before a House of Commons committee in order to discuss the economic impact of the region’s videogame industry.

Paul Durrant, according to the Courier, lobbied for tax credits for the industry and claimed that it was “vital” for the industry to generate private investment. Durrant stated, “We continue to strongly support the industry's calls for games tax relief, but we also recognise the important role of other support mechanisms, including ways to incentivise private sector project finance.”

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TIGA Quantifies Scottish Game Industry Woes

September 10, 2010 -

Thanks in large part to the demise of Realtime Worlds, employment in the Scottish videogame sector has fallen 18 percent in 2010, according to new research published by UK game industry group TIGA.

TIGA’s statistics claimed that there are 46 game development businesses in Scotland, which employ 650 workers and contribute £67 million (approximately $103 million U.S.) to the UK’s GDP.

Calling the Scottish industry “at a crossroads,” TIGA said that if Games Tax Relief was introduced, the industry could expect to grow, but if the UK government “sat on its hands and did nothing,” declines would continue.

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TIGA: Government Must Help if UK is to Become “Digital Superpower”

September 3, 2010 -

UK game industry group TIGA is continuing its full court press for the introduction of Games Tax Relief and other measures that would assist game developers in the region.

This time around TIGA used comments put forth by Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to once again push its initiatives. Hunt called for the UK to become a “digital superpower by 2015,” while noting that the UK was “probably the second best country in the world in the creation of digital content.”

TIGA chief Dr. Richard Wilson answered Hunt’s call, stating, “The UK creative industries have great potential. However, we cannot will the end without the means. Many other countries have high hopes for the economic potential of their own creative industries and are investing significant sums in them. The UK cannot be a digital superpower on the cheap.”

Wilson continued:

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Inafune on the Great White North’s Emergence: “Canadians Are More Serious”

September 2, 2010 -

By all accounts, Canada is now the third largest home to videogame developers in the world, a realization that Capcom’s Keiji Inafune attributes to both favorable tax breaks and the populace’s work ethic.

Speaking to NowGamer
, Inafune, who produced Dead Rising 2 and is head of R&D for the Japanese publisher, noted that Canada was “getting very important now,” before conveying his opinion as to why that might be.

“There are lots of background reasons for it, tax relief and government policies and so on and so forth, but from the developers point of view, Canada is part of North America so you can sort of [include it as] North American,” he stated.

Inafune continued:

But compared to Americans, Canadians are a bit... more serious, if you like. Also, compared to big cities such as Los Angeles, it's also a little bit cheaper. So they've got potential to be at the epicentre of videogame development.

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Dundee Receives Welcome £1M Investment from Channel 4

August 26, 2010 -

UK public-service broadcaster Channel 4 is pumping some timely funds into the Dundee, Scotland economy, just a week or so after that city’s RealTime Worlds entered into administration.

According to the Herald Scotland (thanks The Escapist), the one million pound infusion (approximately $1.55 million U.S.) will be used to commission “apps and games” based on the TV shows Come Dine With Me and Peep Show from Tag Games, as well as a Facebook game from Dynamo Games, which will draw on various Channel 4 shows such as Gok Wan’s How To Look Good Naked.

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UK Labour Leader Blames Tory-Liberal Coalition for Realtime Worlds Failure

August 20, 2010 -

UK Labour party leadership candidate Ed Balls recently made a stop at Dundee and, in the wake of Realtime World’s administration, has blamed the cancellelation of planned tax breaks for the UK games industry are the "cause of the company’s failure."

In a post on his personal blog, Balls reminded readers that the tax breaks by the "previous Labour government" were cut by his colleagues in the Tory and Liberal coalition.

 

Balls also highlighted the stiff competition his country faces from places like Canada, where government support for the industry coupled with aggressive recruitment tactics of UK companies has made the country look like a shining beacon to developers who are looking for ways to make games and save some money.

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As TIGA Slams UK Pols, Canada Trys to Lure More Devs

August 17, 2010 -

While we’ve been using data from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada to crown our neighbors to the north as the world’s third-largest home to videogame development for a few months, trade association TIGA seems to have just recognized that claim as official, and used it to lash out at UK politicians.

TIGA said that UK politicians have been “asleep at the wheel” while Canada, and other countries, cherry pick UK talent with incentives. TIGA Chief Dr. Richard Wilson said that there was “nothing inevitable about this process,” and added:

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Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
IanCSo im guessing a bunch of edutainment games, which a lot of people elsewhere are going gaga over, dot count as classics? Okay. If you don't mind me, i have a sudden urge to play Putt Putt....04/19/2014 - 6:15am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
 

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