Does BC’s Gaming Industry need a Stimulus Package?

In the current issue of the Georgia Straight, Blaine Kyllo ponders whether local video-game developers need government assistance in an article titled Video game executives seek stimulus in B.C. budget.

Downsizing in Vancouver’s video-game industry has been rampant of late with Electronic Arts, Propaganda Games, and Nexon Publishing leading the way. To date an estimated 800 people have lost their jobs in the gaming sector as a result of the downturn. Kenton Low, president of New Media BC, told Kyllo that he is concerned about BC is losing its competitive edge in the gaming space.

“We’ve talked to Minister Hansen on a few occasions,” Low told the Straight by phone. “He has heard our concerns, and we are hopeful that the B.C. government implements some policies that will help B.C. be more competitive with other jurisdictions in the digital-media space.”

In November, the legislature’s select standing committee on finance and government services recommended that the government consider extending to the games sector the visual-effects tax credit, worth 15 percent of labour costs, currently available to the film and television industry.

Today Finance Minister Colin Hansen delivered the provincial budget in Victoria and from a quick scan of the budget document it looks like nothing has changed.

Are the current tax credits available to support digital media through the province’s New Media Venture Capital Program enough? Hopefully the 404 Error page delivered when you click on the program aren’t a sign of things to come.