New York state is offering its first incentive to the fast-paced, creative industry of digital game development.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Clarke Foley, vice president and director of operations at Wolfjaw Studios. “We work hand in hand with national and international publishers who make some of the biggest games out in the world right now.”
The company employs more than 60 people, double the staff it had last year. Foley said the education offered by colleges across the state makes it easy to find applicants.
“We’re right next to RPI, so we’ve got a lot of computer science majors and art and designers," he said. "We pull a lot of students from Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Albany, which is my alma mater, and Hudson Valley."
But like in any business, retention of employees is challenging.
“The video game industry, we say, is pretty small in a sense that there is a lot of companies competing for a finite pool of the skilled workers that we need,” Foley said.
He says the state’s new $25 million tax credit program, which over the course of five years will award up to $5 million a year, will help set companies like WolfJaw up for further success that supports a variety of jobs.
“You could work on games. You could work on software for games. You could work in the business development aspects of it,” Foley said.
Production costs must amount to more than $100,000 to qualify, with 75% of that cost being incurred by work performed in New York. Once the project is complete, studios in New York City can receive up to a 25% reimbursement, while studios outside the city receive up to 35% reimbursement.
Foley appreciates the incentive, but hopes it expands in scope over time to include more businesses.
“Not every company has full creative control of a game, and you need to have different teams and do different portions to make it successful,” he said.