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Hardly Kids' Stuff: Assessing the $2 Billion Videogame Industry in Massachusetts

Posted by Scott Kirsner  September 14, 2009 08:19 AM

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Here's an early look at a survey that the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council plans to release tomorrow, examining the state's videogame industry.

Starting last February, the council's Digital Games cluster, headed by Jon Radoff of GamerDNA and Peter Blacklow of WorldWinner, surveyed companies around the state and came up with a conservative estimate that Massachusetts games companies generate more than $2 billion in revenue annually. (The lion's share of that, I'd guess, is attributable to Cambridge-based Harmonix Music Systems, which hit $1 billion in sales of its "Rock Band" game this past March.) The games cluster employs about 1200 people, according to the survey, and executives expect it to grow about 20 percent this year. In our fine state, fifteen colleges and universities offer programs related to (or supporting) the games industry.

"The goal here was to capture and convey the depth, breadth, and growth potential of the digital game sector in order to attract additional talent and companies to the region," Mass TLC director Tom Hopcroft writes in an e-mail. "We are working with UMass Boston over the next 6-12 months to do more in-depth research on the sector." The council is holding a games-related panel on September 24th that will feature execs from Harmonix, ESPN Games, and QuickHit, and tomorrow night the council's monthly Tech Tuesday gathering will celebrate the games industry with a "Beatles: Rock Band" jam session at Microsoft NERD in Kendall Square.

More data on the MA games industry, including charts, after the jump:

This chart shows how long games companies have been around:

Industry%20maturity.JPG

...Where their funding comes from:

Funding.jpg

...The platforms for which they develop games:

Platform.JPG

...And the kinds of games they develop ("MMO" refers to "massively-multiplayer online games" like "World of Warcraft" or "Lord of the Rings Online," developed by MA-based Turbine):

Markets.JPG

I did enjoy this manufactured quote from Gov. Deval Patrick in the Mass TLC's press release that accompanies this new survey: "The digital gaming industry is on fire in Massachusetts... I am committed to supporting this and other creative economy industries, for the job opportunities they create and for what they do to elevate Massachusetts’ strengths as a center of technology innovation."

Does that mean you've already bought your copy of "Beatles: Rock Band," Gov?

Once the new Mass TLC Digital Games cluster report is up, you'll be able to find it here.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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