Today, gaming industry execs and fans will gather at Epic Games' Headquarters in Cary, N.C. and this time, they're not checking out the giant slide in the lobby. They're supporting Governor Perdue and witness the signing of House Bill 1973 - tax incentives for the digital entertainment industry.
North Carolina holds one of the highest concentration of game developers and publishers within its borders (14 total), including EA, Epic Games and Red Storm. In a move to encourage existing developers and also those who may want to relocate, North Carolina has introduced some tasty tax incentives. Becoming effective January 1, 2011, the incentive includes a 15% tax credit for wages in the game development industry. It's no surprise that North Carolina would flaunt this incentive in the direction of the UK. Chancellor George Osborne recently scrapped the Labour Government's plans for game tax relief and after an outcry by groups like TIGA, has hinted that he'll readdress the issue this fall. Incidentally, TIGA has also criticized the industry's lack of females in the industry and subsequent inability to remain competitive.
"Game developers and publishers are keen to operate in regions that support and sustain the growth of their operations, especially as the current economic climate places a premium on cost-effectiveness," said Wayne Watkins, project manager, Wake County Economic Development. "Adding to the quality of life, creative class and top-notch technology community North Carolina currently boasts, we now have targeted economic development tools that can help both existing companies as well as companies looking to relocate operations."
Will incentives like this bring companies (and their money) to the US? Either way, North Carolina hopes to stimulate the economy with their promise of tax relief.
Among the supporters gathered today is Alexander Macris, President of the Triangle Game Initiative. His non-profit trade association supports the North Carolina interactive entertainment industry. He praised the bill, saying, "The passage of this legislation marks a significant investment in the future of North Carolina's interactive digital media industry. Our state is home to one of the largest concentrations of game development companies in the United States. These incentives will not only help keep North Carolina competitive on the national stage, it will produce compelling ROI for the state's graduates, skilled work force and research and development infrastructure."
In this struggling economy, the gaming industry has reported a slump in sales compared to previous years. Perhaps with the introduction of new platforms like the XBox Kinect, Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Move, along with tax incentives like Bill 1973, more and more industry hopefuls will join the industry and ranks among North Carolina's finest.