Mass. looks to attract video gaming industry; R.I. took ‘wrong approach’

AN IMAGE FROM 38 STUDIOS' Copernicus video game currently in development.  /
AN IMAGE FROM 38 STUDIOS' Copernicus video game currently in development. /

BOSTON – Massachusetts hopes to attract video gaming companies to the state through legislation that would offer tax credits and other incentives, the Associated Press reported on Monday.

A draft of the legislation outlines tax credits related to job creation or production goals for video game companies and incentives to startups or existing companies that expand or relocate to Massachusetts.

The goal is to grow the state’s video game industry from its current $2 billion to $20 billion in five years, state Rep. Vincent Pedone said to the AP.

Pedone went on to say that he believed Rhode Island took the wrong approach when it offered a $75 million loan guarantee to Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios. Rhode Island should have looked at the entire industry and not at just one company, he said.

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“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 a place where there is a lower cost of living,” said Florian Hunziker, chief operating officer for Cambridge-based Harmonix Music Systems Inc., maker of the “Rock Band” games.

In related news, Becker College, which offers a video game design major, hopes to establish a Video Game Institute at its Worcester campus, the AP noted. The institution has been working with local officials to craft the bill, which is slated to be filed on Jan. 21.

Currently, the Bay State has 1,295 people directly employed by video game developers or publishers, ranking fifth behind California, Texas, Washington and New York, the AP said, citing a report by Entertainment Software Association.