North Carolina Governor Signing Digital Media Bill
North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue on Thursday signed into law a game industry-friendly bill that will grant tax incentives to interactive digital media productions in the state beginning January 1, 2011.
Under the bill, next year digital media companies will receive a 15 percent tax credit on compensation and wages for digital media production employees. The credits also apply to employees who work on a digital media engine or platform.
One North Carolina company that is both a creator of games and game engines is Gears of War and Unreal Engine 3 developer Epic Games, based in Cary. The studio will host the governor, industry executives and other politicians who will witness the signing of House Bill 1973.
Epic Games president Mike Capps told Gamasutra in an email that the measure could help his studio attract more talent. "The law contains a number of economic development incentives, including tax credits for developing interactive digital media. These economic incentives will not only help us make higher quality products, it will help us attract the best talent for making them."
He added, "But we hope the primary impact will be to draw new digital media companies to the Tar Heel state. After all, we like having lots of game developers here! A healthy local ecosystem is good for our business, and we like the idea of more gamers here to join our LAN parties and to play tabletop RPGs with."
Non-profit North Carolina game industry trade group Triangle Game Initiative welcomed the bill's signing. "The passage of this legislation marks a significant investment in the future of North Carolina's interactive digital media industry," said Triangle Game Initiative president Alexander Macris in a statement.
He added, "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."
Other video game developers with operations in North Carolina include Ubisoft subsidiary Red Storm, Vicious Cycle, Insomniac Games and Atomic Games.
Wake County Economic Development project manager Wayne Watkins said that with the new incentives, the state now has "targeted economic development tools that can help both existing companies as well as companies looking to relocate operations."
[UPDATE: Added comments from Epic president Mike Capps.]