New York City may be the star of the Grand Theft Auto IV, but from a business standpoint, New York isn’t investing enough in the gaming industry, according to a study released today by the Center for an Urban Future, a Manhattan think tank.
In fact, New York City, whose gaming industry employs just 1,200 people, trails “gaming hubs” like Seattle, Los Angeles, Montreal and Boston (Boston?!?!), according to the study, “Getting in the Game.”
But there is some good news:
“While the sector is still relatively small, it has grown significantly from a few years ago, when the number of game development firms could be counted on one hand. And although New York lacks a large game development company—like Entertainment Arts, PlayStation or Ubisoft—the city has emerged as a leader in three growing sub-sectors of the industry: casual games, mobile games and serious games. In fact, New York is home to several of the nation’s largest and most well-known casual game companies—such as Gamelab and Large Animal Games.”
We’ll take their word for it. The rest of the release, and the actual study, are below.
STUDY REVEALS THAT NYC IS ONE OF JUST A HANDFUL OF CITIES TO DEVELOP A CLUSTER OF GAMING FIRMS; BUT DESPITE A RECENT SPIKE
IN FIRMS AND JOBS, NEW YORK LAGS BEHIND OTHER INDUSTRY HUBS
LIKE SEATTLE, LA, BOSTON AND MONTREAL
The Center for an Urban Future, a Manhattan-based think tank, released a new report today which concludes that the fast-growing video game industry represents a promising opportunity for New York City’s economy. The study shows that New York is one of just a handful of cities in North America to develop a cluster of gaming firms, thanks to a considerable spike in the number of gaming firms here in the past few years. But despite recent gains, the study finds that New York’s gaming sector faces significant challenges and still lags well behind established gaming hubs like Seattle, Los Angeles, Montreal and Boston.
The report, titled “Getting in the Game,” shows that New York City is now home to more than to 30 game development companies and another 55 firms involved in some aspect of gaming. The industry employs at least 1,200 people in the city.
While the sector is still relatively small, it has grown significantly from a few years ago, when the number of game development firms could be counted on one hand. And although New York lacks a large game development company—like Entertainment Arts, PlayStation or Ubisoft—the city has emerged as a leader in three growing sub-sectors of the industry: casual games, mobile games and serious games. In fact, New York is home to several of the nation’s largest and most well-known casual game companies—such as Gamelab and Large Animal Games.
The report, the first comprehensive analysis of New York City’s video game sector, concludes that New York has tremendous potential to cultivate a larger game industry—a prospect that, if achieved, could lead to hundreds, if not thousands, of new jobs and help the city diversify its economy. The study shows that New York has many of the ingredients necessary to be a major center for the industry: it boasts a deep pool of creative workers and it is home to some of the world’s most successful film, media and publishing companies—sectors that have similar characteristics as gaming.
“The video game sector is poised to be one of the fastest-growing parts of the entertainment industry in the years ahead,” says Tara Colton, deputy director of the Center for an Urban Future and author of the report. “While New York’s video game industry overall may be not as large as other regions, it has carved out some impressive niches, and the city has many of the ingredients to become a robust gaming hub. Given the recent economic downturn, New York needs to do more to diversify its economy, and the video game sector should be one part of that strategy.”
However, the Center’s study shows that New York faces a number of challenges in capturing a larger share of the industry’s future growth. Chief among these problems is a limited supply of technical workers, compounded by the fact that the city’s universities aren’t creating the pipeline of technical talent that local video game companies need. Other challenges include the high cost of doing business in New York and the fact that city and state economic development officials have done little to support the industry’s growth.
The report features results from the first-ever survey of local gaming executives, conducted in partnership with the New York City chapter of the International Game Development Association. 35 percent of gaming executives who responded to the survey cited the city’s high costs and overhead as one of their greatest challenges, and another 33 percent pointed to the difficulty in attracting qualified workers. In addition, 76 percent of those responding to the survey said that their companies had never interacted with the city or state government; of those who had, most cited negative experiences.
The report calls on city officials to integrate the gaming sector into their overall economic development strategy, urges New York’s universities to expand their video game programs to include a technical game design degree program and encourages universities and local game companies to forge closer ties.
The Center for an Urban Future is a non-partisan think tank based in Manhattan that has long been focused on highlighting opportunities for growing and diversifying New York City’s economy. In the past, the Center has published studies about the biotechnology, air cargo and fashion industries and written extensively about the impact of the city’s creative economy.