An industry group is trying to convince the Pennsylvanian state government to offer tax breaks to developers in the hope of convincing them to settle in the state.
The Videogame Growth Initiative, or VGI, may not be a name that you've heard before, but they've got big plans for the city of Philadelphia.
"There's no reason Philadelphia can't be the Hollywood for video games," said Hardik Bhatt, developer and spokesperson for VGI. After an invitation to GDC to present a game he had developed that could be played using only the movements of the head and neck, Bhatt realized that Philadelphia was under-represented in the gaming industry:
"We saw places like Toronto and Georgia that had booths attracting all of these places to open up satellite studios there, and we didn't see Philadelphia. So we took on this mission to put Philadelphia on the map," he said.
Philadelphia is well placed to become the 'Hollywood of Gaming'. It has a lower cost of living than the current development hubs as well as the only Ivy League university that offers courses in video game development, graduates of which often find employment with West Coast developers like EA. It's also a great time to be trying to attract developers, as only eight states in the US offer videogame focused incentives, compared to the forty-eight that offer incentives to the movie industry.
Unfortunately for VGI, Philadelphia is in the grip of a massive fiscal crisis right now, so the prospect of offering tax breaks must seem fairly unappealing as only this week Mayor Michael Nutter warned that he may have to lay off more than a thousand police officers and fire fighters.
Currently, the city's plan is to better market its existing incentives, but Bhatt is skeptical: "That's still not enough, it's not like other cities don't have these kinds of incentives," he said. "I'm hoping it doesn't take a studio to look into the city and decide to go somewhere else for them to change their minds."