Video Game Projects
The following is a summary of the rules and requirements for the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program. Read the complete rules and requirements in the Texas Administrative Code. If you have any questions concerning the rules, please contact us.
Table of Contents
- Incentive / Program Qualifications
- Ineligible Projects
- Application Process
- Start Date Confirmation
- Residency Verification
- During Production
- Eligible Expenditures
- Ineligible Expenditures
- Verification Process
- Review and Payment Process
Qualifying video game projects are eligible to receive a cash grant up to 22.5% of eligible Texas spending.
- Minimum eligible Texas spending of $100,000.
- At least 60% of the production must be completed in Texas. Production days in which any work is done outside of Texas, including work outsourced to a vendor, will count as a portion of a production day depending on the number of production locations outside Texas.
- At least 55% of the combined paid crew (employees and contract laborers) working in Texas must be Texas residents.
If your project does not meet these qualifications, it is not eligible to receive funds from the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program.
The Texas Film Commission will examine incentive applications to ensure the minimum requirements for spend, residency and content will be met. Additionally, applications will be evaluated for the potential magnitude of the economic impact of the project for the State of Texas with respect to: (i) The financial viability of the Applicant; (ii) Proposed spending on existing state production infrastructure; (iii) The number of Texas jobs estimated to be created by the project; (iv) The ability to promote Texas as a tourist destination through the conduct of the project; (v) Whether the project will be directed or produced by individuals who are Texas Residents.
The following types of projects, among the various other types of prohibited projects described in the Program Rules, are not eligible to receive funds from this program:
- Obscene material, as defined by Section 43.21, Texas Penal Code;
- Projects intended for undergraduate or graduate course credit;
- Application software, system software, or middleware; or
- Casino-type video games used in a gambling device, as pursuant to Texas Penal Code, Chapter 47.01.
The State of Texas is also not required to make payments to projects that include inappropriate content or content that portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion.
Projects interested in applying to the incentive program should submit an Incentive Inquiry Form in order to request an application link. Please contact the incentive team with questions regarding the program and fund availability at 512-463-9200.
An application package must be received by the Texas Film Commission no earlier than 180 days and no later than 5 PM Central Time 5 business days prior to the first day of production:
- A Qualifying Application, to be completed and submitted online;
- An itemized budget detailing only estimated Texas expenditures; and
- A content document that details the:
- Type of game
- Game platform
- Brief synopsis of game story
- Brief description of game characters
- Game levels, scenarios, encounters or environments
All application materials should be submitted electronically. Budget and content documents should be submitted as Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel documents and uploaded with the online application.
Upon proper submission of the complete online application, the applicant will receive a confirmation that acknowledges submission of the online application.
NOTE: The application is not complete until all required documents have been received.
Late applications will not be accepted. If you have already started production, you cannot apply to the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program.
Start Date Confirmation
Within 5 business days after the first day of production (asset creation) as indicated on the application, the applicant must submit an email to filmincentive[at]gov.texas.gov confirming the start of production. If production is delayed, you must email the incentive team to provide a new start date and the reason for the change. If the start of the project is delayed for more than 30 days, the application may be discarded and the project will be asked to reapply.
As proof of residency, each Texas resident crew member, cast member (including extras and stand-ins) or permanent employee must complete a Declaration of Texas Residency Form.
To be considered a Texas resident for the purposes of the incentive, a person must be permanently domiciled in Texas for at least 120 days prior to the first day of principal photography and be able to complete sections I, II and III of the Declaration of Texas Residency Form. Section III must be completed with one of the following documents:
- A current Texas driver license or ID card.
- A current Texas voter registration.
- A current student ID card from a Texas Institution of Higher Education (full-time college students only).
Please note that in addition to the document information, Section III also requires the employee to initial where indicated in Section III, paragraph 2 and provide a signature in the signature box.
All crew members, cast members or permanent employees who receive any payment for working in Texas must be included in the total crew and cast counts and listed on the crew and cast lists of a project. Proof of residency for all Texas residents working on a project must be properly documented in order to meet the 55% residency requirement for crew and cast, and to apply payments made to Texas residents toward the incentive.
A minor who does not have the necessary document to complete Section III of the form should have a Texas resident parent or legal guardian complete section III and note their relationship to the minor in the signature box.
Section IV of the Declaration of Texas Residency Form must be completed by an authorized representative of the production company or incentive applicant who has reviewed and authenticated (to the best of their ability) the document presented by the employee to complete section III of the form. It is not necessary to obtain a physical copy of the employee’s document.
To be considered valid, Declaration of Texas Residency Forms must be filled out completely, correctly and legibly. Any residency form with missing, expired or illegible information will be considered invalid.
Employees with properly completed Declaration of Texas Residency Forms are the only people considered Texas residents for the purposes of calculating the 55% residency requirement.
Individuals without properly completed Declaration of Texas Residency Forms cannot be considered Texas residents for the purposes of calculating the 55% residency requirement, and any payments made to these individuals cannot be applied toward the incentive.
Individuals who are not Texas residents do not need to complete the Declaration of Texas Residency Form. Any payments made to these individuals cannot be applied toward the incentive.
Individuals who do not perform any work in Texas do not need to complete the Declaration of Texas Residency Form. Payments made to these individuals cannot be applied toward the incentive, and these individuals should not be included in the crew and cast count or listed on the crew and cast lists.
The Texas Film Commission may periodically review production activity including, but not limited to, in-state spending and the number of Texas residents hired; and may request documentation for all of the above.
- Wages and per diems paid to Texas residents for work performed in Texas, including employer-paid Social Security and Medicare (OASDI, SS, MEDI, FICA); federal unemployment (FUTA, FUI); state unemployment (SUTA, SUI); pension, health, and welfare (PH&W); vacation; and holiday. Total compensation (including wages, per diems and eligible fringes) is capped at $1 million per worker, per project.
- Workers compensation insurance payments may be included only if the premiums are paid to a Texas-based company or broker.
- Payroll company service fees may be included only if paid to a Texas-based payroll company that processes payroll within Texas.
- Pre-production, research, and development costs cannot exceed 30% of the project’s overall Texas spending.
- Payments made to Texas companies for goods and services domiciled and used in Texas that are directly attributable to the physical production of the video game project.
- Payments for shipping on shipments originating in Texas.
- Air travel to and from Texas on a Texas-based airline including American Airlines, Southwest Airlines or on a Texas-based air charter service.
- Rentals and leases of vehicles registered and licensed in the State of Texas or rented from a rental car company with a physical outlet in Texas.
- Music that is specifically created for the project and fees paid to Texas residents hired to create, orchestrate, and perform the music.
- Legal fees that are directly attributable to the production and are paid to a Texas-based lawyer or law firm.
- Wages and fringes paid to non-Texas residents.
- Per diems paid to non-Texas residents.
- Payments to non-Texas vendors, or for goods and services not directly attributable to the physical production of the video game including, but not limited to, entertainment expenses, gifts and party expenses.
- Fees for story rights, music rights, or clearance rights.
- Expenses related to distribution, publicity, marketing, or promotion of the project.
- Rental, lease or mortgage payments, to include utilities and insurance, on facilities that are part of a permanent/continuous business operation.
- Payments made to pass-through companies.
- Payments for shipping on shipments that originate outside of Texas.
- Alcohol and tobacco purchases.
- Tips and gratuities.
Within 60 days of completing Texas expenditures, final verifying documentation should be submitted to the Texas Film Commission in either hard copy or digital format. Specific guidelines have been established for submitting the final verifying documentation, and this information is located in the Forms and Guidelines.
The following is a general summary of documentation requirements. Documentation includes, but may not be limited to, the following:
- An accounts payable spreadsheet, sorted alphabetically by vendor, that reflects only eligible in-state transactions and includes copies of all cleared checks, invoices and receipts for each vendor;
- A petty cash spreadsheet, if applicable, sorted alphabetically by name, that reflects only eligible in-state transactions and includes copies of the petty cash envelope fronts and all receipts;
- A payroll spreadsheet, sorted alphabetically by name, that reflects only payments made to Texas residents and includes copies of the payroll company invoices and registers that detail wages and fringes paid to Texas residents;
- A copy of each Texas resident’s Declaration of Texas Residency form;
- A copy of the production calendar, detailing total days of production and total days completed in Texas;
- A complete list of all employees, contract laborers and cast members that includes both Texas resident and non-resident individuals who worked in Texas on the project;
- A complete copy or demo copy of the final project containing approved use of the Texas Film Commission logo included on the end credits. For browser or web-based games, a playable link may be provided; and
- The CPA Audit Opinion, if required by Program Rules. Projects that have applied on or after March 27, 2017 are not required to submit a CPA audit opinion.
Review and Payment Process
Following a review by the Texas Film Commission, the final documentation will be submitted for a compliance review by the Governor’s Office Division of Compliance and Monitoring. Disbursement of funds will not occur until the production has paid all financial obligations incurred to the State of Texas, and the final compliance review has been completed and approved.