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 EisenOnce again, MaskedPixelante, I have no idea what the hell you're talking about. Are you talking about the Wii remake in 2010? The PS3/360 enhanced port of the remake in 2011? Something new? Please, for the love of fluffy kittens, provide a damn link.08/20/2014 - 9:57am
MaskedPixelanteSo, if I finish this game Activision claims is the GoldenEye remake, but looks suspiciously like a rejected CoD game, do I get the REAL GoldenEye remake?08/20/2014 - 8:37am
Papa MidnightWii U Games finding Solidarity with PC Gamers :(08/19/2014 - 6:09pm
Zenbuy all of the bad DLC before they even showed the main content everyone was waiting for. I paid for it, I wanted it, and I got tossed aside.08/19/2014 - 4:10pm
ZenIanC: Yep, both Call of Duty games did the same thing holding back all DLC and then releasing the day one map 2 YEARS later out of the blue. Why play what they won't support. Warner Bros canceled their DLC after promising it because Wii U owners didn't08/19/2014 - 4:09pm
Andrew EisenShe's the developer of Depression Quest. It's an interesting game (although I wouldn't call it fun) and you can check it out for free at depressionquest.com.08/19/2014 - 2:48pm
Sleakerwhat's all this Zoe quinn stuff all over and should I even bother looking it up?08/19/2014 - 2:37pm
IanCExactly Zen. The third one had random delays to the DLC and they just came out seemingly at random with no warning, and the 4th they didn't even bother.08/19/2014 - 2:31pm
ZenI may have bought both AC games on Wii U, but WHY would anyone be expected to get the game when they came out MONTHS before release that they were skipping DLC and ignoring the game? They poisoned the market on themselves then blamed Nintendo players.08/19/2014 - 1:27pm
Papa MidnightIn review, that's fair, Andrew. I just tend to take Gawker articles with a lot of salt, and skepticism.08/19/2014 - 12:07pm
Matthew WilsonFor one has a English speaking support team for devs. Devs have said any questions they have, were translated in to Japanese. then back in to English. 08/19/2014 - 11:41am
Adam802they need to realize the "wii-fad" era is pretty much over and start rebooting some old great franchises like they are doing with star fox08/19/2014 - 11:39am
Adam802unfortunatly, this seems to represent 3rd party's position on the wiiU in general. Nintendo has always sucessfully relied on 1st party but now since 3rd parties and console "power" are so important this gen, they're in trouble.08/19/2014 - 11:38am
IanCOkay, so what can Nintendo do to these 3rd parties? Huh? If a company release games late with missing content then of course it won't sell. Seems simple to me.08/19/2014 - 11:25am
Andrew EisenSakurai and Co. REALLY need to go back in there and re-pose Samus. She is so incredibly broken.08/19/2014 - 11:06am
ZippyDSMleeUntill Nin starts paying out the azz or doing much much more to help 3rd party games development, the WIIU is dead in the water.....08/19/2014 - 11:03am
ZippyDSMleehttps://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=316135481893472&id=22417313775637408/19/2014 - 11:02am
ZippyDSMlee*gets out the popcorn* this will be fun08/19/2014 - 11:01am
Andrew EisenIt's not as simple as "Nintendo gamers don't buy AC games."08/19/2014 - 11:01am
 

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