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The Future of Gaming Heads South

Video games are the most profitable form of entertainment in the world, and while the biggest revenue comes from the Asia-Pacific region, and the largest market resides in China, the United States has long been the country leading the industry’s direction. The country that kickstarted the gaming world as we know it is home to some of the largest and most prestigious companies in the world.

The results of the industry in the U.S are vastly underrated by the general public, mostly due to misinformation and the fact that marketing endeavors related to games are usually less flashy or far-reaching than movies or sports. However, video games in the U.S. have results that surpass the entirety of movies and sports in the country, and that tendency is projected to keep increasing in the near future.

Traditionally, video game companies have resided in the western part of the country, mainly in California, but the state has been slowly losing its preference among companies because it has one of the most intricate labor laws, as well as some of the highest taxes. Along with the pandemic, work from home, tax breaks and incentives from other states, companies have new opportunities to shift their headquarters. And the Southern states have become some of the most attractive options for relocation.

Is Texas the New Silicon Valley?

Without getting in-depth into tax laws, various corporations have already made a migration toward Texas, due to its fiscal incentives. Billionaires and their companies like Tesla, Oracle and Hewlett-Packard are leaving Silicon Valley and the Golden State in search of better fiscal results. Although financial results are the main reason for the move, the state of Texas already has a longstanding relationship with the gaming industry.

In a recent study from the Entertainment Software Association, the state of Texas was the third state with the highest impact on the gaming industry, contributing over $4.15 billion dollars in a direct or indirect manner. Those results are directly tied to the number of companies that have headquarters or branches in the state, generating over 25,0000 jobs.

Major companies such as Unity, Rooster Teeth, Activision and Blizzard all have offices in Texas; their contribution toward game development is the second-highest in the country behind California. Between the cities of San Antonio, Dallas and Austin, the state has gained a reputation as an innovation hub. Outstanding titles such as World of Warcraft and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War were created in that same hub.

With a booming market that has shown constant growth, the demand for qualified professionals has grown as well, which is why universities around the Lone Star State have doubled down and expanded their curriculum to meet those needs. Even more so, the state has a tradition of supporting digital media production in general, with over 150 animations, production and visual effect companies that ultimately have fused with the gaming industry.

One of the country’s most prestigious entertainment, arts and culture events takes place in Austin: South by Southwest. Also known as SXSW, this event has dedicated an entire section of its expo toward video games. SXSW Gaming is a huge exposition for players that mostly showcases new technologies, titles and prototypes to influence the future of the industry.

Georgia and Florida Can Play

Texas might be the major player in the South, but other states have shown continuous support for entertainment companies in the last couple of years, with the most notable ones being Georgia and Florida. Both states have a history with entertainment, so their embrace and incentive toward the gaming side of the industry don’t come as a big surprise.

Atlanta skyline

In Georgia, Atlanta became one of the go-to spots for major companies to develop new content. A quick search through Georgia’s government website shows that companies like Disney, Apple, HBO Max and Warner Bros all have titles in development. This isn’t exactly breaking news, but their infrastructure and willingness to collaborate and work with entertainment companies obviously would translate into games.

In recent years, the state became home to over 50 gaming publishers, developers and hardware companies. Those companies employ roughly 5,000 people and generate over $800 million dollars in revenue. Much like Texas, Georgia has also shown interest in generating supply toward the gaming industry, with 12 certified college programs and three accompanying varsity eSports teams.

This development shouldn’t surprise anyone, as their approach toward entertainment, in general, has been nothing but welcoming in the last years. On top of all that, Atlanta already holds one of the biggest eSports events in the world: Dreamhack. It is clear that their existing connections and growing efforts toward building an attractive environment for gaming companies will surely yield new endeavors.

Florida is the other state that has shown great promise and interest in attracting investors and companies alike. The state has a bigger impact than Georgia, boasting over 70 related institutions, among them Alienware, EA Tiburon, Electronic Arts, Magic Leap, Doghead Simulation and various others. The Sunshine State has shown an economic impact of $2.6 billion, in recent studies, making it the fourth-largest market in the U.S. Currently employing 17,000 Americans, the state is investing in qualifying more people, as they now have 20 college programs related to the industry.

The eSports scenario in Florida is growing rapidly, as most colleges are creating their own teams for different games. Full Sail University at Winter Park, for instance, holds the largest collegiate eSports arena in the country, and they promote and host multiple events throughout the year. Finally, the state has a longstanding relationship with Disney, which always had a tremendous incentive in Florida. While that doesn’t necessarily translate into games directly, their willingness to incentivize the entertainment industry could extend to games in the future.

As companies try to adjust in this post-pandemic scenario, the South has a very promising future in regard to gaming. The future of gaming might be South after years of western dominance.

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