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Texas slashes government incentives for video games and film

As the two industries clash over who gets what, a lack of compromise and heightened scrutiny from politicians means that the latest subsidies are looking very lean by previous standards.

News has come that Texas' film and video game incentive program has been slashed -- down to just $32 million for the next two years, shared across both industries. In the last four years, incentives totaled $150 million, The Texas Tribune reports.

Why the drop? Both the Tribune and Texas Public Radio chalk it up to increased scrutiny from politicians -- and infighting between the film and game industries. According to reports, the film industry wanted to carve games out into a separate deal, and lobbied to that effect.

"They have continued to introduce a number of riders that would prohibit the video game industry and the visual effects industry from participating in the film incentives," the ESA's Tom Foulkes said, as negotiations were still ongoing.

"I thought it was a pointless exercise, one of those situations where we should try to get the pie and then figure out how to divide it up, rather than try to divide nothing," said Jennifer Bullard, an industry veteran who heads Austin's IGDA chapter.  

Support was weak in the legislature and "evaporated" thanks to that infighting, said the Texas Association of Business' Bill Hammond.

"The failure of the two industries to find common ground during the Senate mark-up process doomed us in conference committee and is the origin of today’s bad feelings about the future of the program," film industry lobbyist Lawrence Collins said.

It's unclear what effect this will have on studios -- the state houses a number of large and small companies, and offers incentives for projects with (in-state) spends as small as $100,000. When studio heads started complaining about Quebec's rollback in incentives, the province was quick to reinstate them.

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