ATLANTA- May 3, 2012- Georgia-based interactive game developers are applauding the revisions made to House Bill 1027, which was signed into law this week by Governor Nathan Deal after receiving final passage by the Georgia General Assembly. The bill amends the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, which has been responsible for generating significant investment and job creation in Georgia. While the original proposal would have excluded digital media from receiving tax credits to invest in Georgia, industry leaders worked with Governor Deal, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and leadership in the House and Senate to craft a compromise that protects the investment already made by many interactive companies.
“The state’s leadership opened their doors and listened as we explained what the original Act meant to our industry,” said Clinton Lowe, CEOof C. Allen Lowe & Associates, LLCand chairman of the board of the Georgia Game Developers' Association (GGDA). “We certainly understand and appreciate the desire to ensure tax credit programs are working for Georgia, so this compromise allows our industry time to document the investment, jobs and leadership position Georgia has earned in game development.”
The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act went into effect in 2005 to provide tax credits to companies producing feature films, music videos, television series, commercials, interactive gaming and animation in the state. Under the act, companies spending more than $500,000 on production and post-production in Georgia are eligible to receive a 20 percent tax credit, with an additional 10 percent tax credit available for those companies choosing to include a promotional Georgia logo on all finished projects.
Today, Georgia is home to nearly 75 digital entertainment companies employing over 2,000 professionals. In 2011, the top 10 digital entertainment companies in the state employed about 500 Georgianswith a total project spend of $50 million. A driving factor for growth in the industry has continually been the number of digital entertainment companies that have spawned from the larger companies in Georgia, indicating a strong “staying power” for the industry.
Georgia is also home to the largest game development conference in the Southeast, the Southern Interactive Entertainment and Game Expo (SIEGE). Attracting game developers and media from around the world, SIEGE brought 2,000 attendees to Atlanta in 2011 and organizers expect even more attendees this October. The conference puts Georgia at the center of the game development world for four days and includes a “Games for Health” conference, an investment conference, a college fair and much more.
The compromise approved by lawmakers reserves the tax credits for companies with less than $100 million in annual revenues, allowing the credits to be specifically targeted to start up and early stage developers that are growing. The total amount of tax credits that can be claimed moving forward is $25 million, expected to last up to six years based on current use. Over that time, no single company can claim more than $5 million in credits, ensuring the credits are spread out over multiple companies in the industry.
The growing interactive gaming industry also promotes Georgia’s creative talent and the growth of game developers in the state. Georgia colleges and universities, such as the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia Southern University and Southern Polytechnic State University, are nationally recognized leaders in producing top students with game-related degrees. The growing digital media industry in Georgia is keeping local talent in the state.
“The video game industry has grown tremendously in Georgia in the past seven years as a direct result from including digital entertainment in the tax credit legislation,” added GGDA President Andrew Greenberg. “We have technically skilled graduates from our universities, a strong data infrastructure and the state’s favorable tax credits working together to attract a number of these well-paid, creative jobs to Georgia.”
In 2005, there were less than 100 Georgia college students pursuing game related degrees. Today, Georgia colleges and universities have more than 4,000 students studying this professional career path. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was recently recognized nationally by Princeton Review as a top 10 national program, while other schools such as Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern have growing, respected programs as well.
“It is obvious that Georgia’s leadership is committed tocreating innovative policies that will spur meaningful job creation in our state,” said Lowe.“The Georgia Game Developers’ Association is especially pleased to see the state supporting a homegrown industry that generates high-paying jobs in a high-technology field.”
Georgia Game Developers Association, Inc. is a non-profit trade association of businesses and professionals of the video and electronic game manufacturing industry of Georgia. GGDA is committed to the growth and development of this industry and the success of its members as they compete internationally.