The UK games industry has been struggling to keep hold of developers for some time now, thanks to the efforts of countries such as Canada to subsidise game development and lure talent to its shores. It now looks like there is another threat even closer to home, with pressure growing in Ireland to poach British developers to boost the country's ailing economy.
According to Scotland's Sunday Herald, Dundee-based Realtime Worlds would consider the overtures from the Emerald Isle. Colin McDonald, studio manager at the APB developer, told the paper, "Dundee is a great place to be based, one of the main hubs for computer games in Britain, but at the end of the day we’ve got to look after our bottom line."
"Ireland is a lot closer to home than Canada, so Scottish policy-makers should regard it as a potentially serious threat. They need to make sure there's a level playing field here or they will lose some of us and lose out on a potential boom," he continued.
The explicit threat of Irish subsidies--a five-year tax holiday for game development is reportedly one of the measures under consideration--looks likely to provide the incumbent Scottish National Party government a reason to continue to push for greater independence for the country. This is in addition to increased powers for its devolved regional assembly, which does not currently have the authority to implement tax breaks of its own, relying instead on progress on that front in Westminster.
Richard Wilson, CEO of Tiga--the trade body that represents British game developers--welcomed the fact that members of the Scottish Parliament were supporting the industry and calling for tax breaks.
Talking to GameSpot UK, Wilsonsaid, "We'd be very happy to get [a tax break] in Scotland, but in time we'd have to have one for all the UK," rather than a "messier" patchwork system. He also indicated that Tiga had been lobbying Westminster MPs for Scottish constituencies to make sure they offer their support to companies such as Realtime Worlds and others in Westminster by backing plans for a UK-wide change to regulations, rather than a system that would not be of benefit to all.