With the "Pokemon Go" craze sweeping the nation, video game industry leaders are urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would help grow the business of developing those types of games here in New York. A tax credit similar to one offered for film TV production is currently awaiting the governor's signature. Zack Fink filed the following report.
It is hard to miss all the attention this week being given to the new interactive Pokemon Go game that encourages New Yorkers to explore the city in search of little cartoon icons identified through their smartphones.
Gaming is currently a $20 billion industry in America, $79 billion globally. But only a small percentage of the development and production of those games take place in New York State, meaning big money is being left on the table.
"The overriding reason why we need these incentives are that we are starting so far behind the other states that because of conscious planning or just perceived better business climate, are just eating our lunch," said state Senator Martin Golden of Brooklyn.
Golden and Assemblyman Joe Lentol sponsored a bill that passed both houses of the legislature last month allowing tax incentives for game developers to operate in New York State. It's similar to what was offered to lure television and film production here 12 years ago, which resulted in New York now ranking second in the nation for movie and TV production.
"The creative and technologically innovative ideas are truly boundless within the computer video game industry. Our industry continues to change the interface between man and machine," said Tom Foulkes of the Entertainment Software Association.
But the bill isn't just aimed at video games. It is also designed to bring music production back to New York. Experts say recording artists have migrated away from the cost-prohibitive Big Apple over the last several decades.
"We lost hip-hop. We want it back here in the state of New York. We want it back here in Brooklyn. Back here in the city of New York. And that is why we are putting these tax credits forward," Golden said.
"Start spreading the news. We need you today. Mr. Governor, please sign the bill," Lentol said, singing to the tune of "New York, New York."
Officially, the governor's office says the tax incentive is just one of more than 500 pieces of legislation that passed in the final days of the legislative session and is currently being reviewed by counsel. However, the governor has been supportive of these types of tax breaks in the past.