UK game-industry aid not Tories' top priority

Tax breaks may come in two to three years if the current opposition wins upcoming election, despite pleas and dire warnings from industry heavyweights.

UK game developers may be frustrated with the lack of government support for their struggling sector, but shuffling the political deck isn't likely to change that. Speaking in Westminster this morning, Ed Vaizey, the shadow minister for culture and the creative industries, heaped praise on the UK games industry, but admitted that government policy on aid for the games industry would not change were the Conservatives to seize power in the coming general election. Vaizey said assistance for developers would not be "an immediate priority," despite the argued benefits the sector brings to the country.

Opposition leadership to UK devs: "We've got bigger fish to batter and fry and serve with chips on a bed of newspaper."

The case for tax breaks was made by a number of UK industry luminaries present at the event. Dr Richard Wilson, CEO of UK development trade body Tiga, said his organisation's calculations showed that a cultural tax break along the lines of that given to the film industry would raise in excess of £400 million ($648 million) for the treasury over five years. These figures were collated at the request of the treasury in 2009 to examine the feasibility of a tax break for video games and were presented just before last year's prebudget report, which unexpectedly snubbed the industry.

Wilson and Richard Gibson, director of consulting firm Games Investor, both made the point that the problems besetting the UK games industry resulted in the closure of 15 percent of UK studios last year. Gibson went on to explain that the 18 months leading up to the end of 2008 saw a 6.5 percent decline in UK industry employment numbers, while in the same period Canada's gaming headcount saw an 18 percent increase, in part thanks to fiscal measures aimed directly at the games industry.

Gibson, however, disagreed that the simple production tax credit modelled after that of the movie industry was the way forward, suggesting that it entrenched existing business models for creation of blockbuster games but was ill-suited to companies attempting to take advantage of the sea changes in the industry towards online, continuous development models.

Chris Deering, Codemasters' non-executive chairman and former head of Sony's European operation, suggested that while the UK industry was "under attack," it wasn't too late to arrest the decline. Using the analogy of the way that the Wii had moved gamers off the couch, he suggested that it was simply time for the UK government to stand up and move around to ensure that the country remains at the forefront of the global games market rather than becoming "a major victim" of sea changes in the industry across the world.

Vaizey did say he was "confident" that something could be done within two to three years in terms of tax breaks and indicated that smaller measures would be looked at in the interim, such as a bolstering of the generic research and development tax breaks. He also suggested that amendments to the current film industry support might be possible in the interim to allow the creative industries as a whole to benefit from the pool of money currently available only to those making movies in the UK.

He reiterated the suggestions that Tiga and the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association--the UK trade bodies that represent developers and publishers--merge to form a UK Video Games Council along the lines of the UK Film Council, which is funded via the national lottery. This suggestion was met with derision by Richard Wilson, CEO of Tiga, and with scepticism by Keith Ramsdale, an EA vice president and ELSPA board member, though both support the idea of a separate entity along these lines.

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Discussion

30 comments
jtthegame316
jtthegame316

labour and the torries are both are hopeless but then whatever happens can we really win even if lib dem shockely got in? politians are just out for emslefes all the time. That will be the day they do something for the country as a whole rather than personal gain. i suppose i am gonna have to decide who i think is lying the least again when it comes to voting.

dwd_27
dwd_27

to be honest all of the parties are hopless

LittleDuck
LittleDuck

Thing is though the alternative or lib dem have a leader so un-charismatic, most people don't even know who he is. This is the perfect opertunity for them to take power and what they need is a charming confident and powerful man/woman. Instead they've gotten the nervous naked kid from P.E.

Flipyap28
Flipyap28

When will a party emerge which I can like..... I disagree with the tories, put hope in labour, just to find that they are usless.... :( I want change!

deannatrois
deannatrois

im just gunna take a vote of no confidance gordon brown is useless ans so is cameron

TLM16
TLM16

I hope you don't all vote on the basis of which party will invest in the games industry more. The Conservatives could propose to invest in virtual reality and public transport to Mars if they like, I STILL wont vote for them after what they did to the country in the 80s. Absolutely hate that party. And no I'm not voting for Labour either.

ShroudedEagle
ShroudedEagle

I don't see why not - the gaming industry is VERY successful these days. It would help us economically.

2611mp
2611mp

To be fair, I vote tory and completely agree with this, why would they have games as a main priority when there are MUCH more pressing issues?

dragonballkid
dragonballkid

I would think most gamers are Labour supporters, gaming doesn't seem very "tory"

mariostar0001
mariostar0001

I don't get it, my conservative friends are more likely to be gamers.

darklight4
darklight4

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brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

wonder how many thumbs down il get if i told u all im a labour supporter

mutual-assassin
mutual-assassin

Damn, British politicians are so out of touch it's laughable. I hate every last one of them. Classist swine.

Yak_Bender
Yak_Bender

The UK needs to move away from industry that the rest of the world can do such as car manufacturing, and get into high tech industry that we are good at such as game design and motorsport. If the Government gave tax breaks to these industries they would be much more successful. The whole economic model of the UK depends on this.

Cruorem
Cruorem

@okassar and Cloud737, most politicians actually took law degress. Only about two notable politicians in the last 20-30 years in the UK have had no degree, John Major and John Prescott. Most are very well educated. One of the big criticisms against ALL the leading parties is that their top levels are full of Etonians and those that went to Oxford and Cambridge.

MrGloomy
MrGloomy

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

GaMeR_Willz
GaMeR_Willz

Oh my god, this is really, really stupid and as a British citizen, this is embarrassing. Game industry is massive, and it's making a lot of money and the UK is still viewing game industry as not important. It indicates just how ignorant British government are.

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

Not sure why gaming industry should be any different to the rest of us but on the other hand if it generates more games and/or better quality games then....

stocko2k
stocko2k

As a student in the uk doing my final year in a degree in 3d game art creation, I've already come to the conclusion that to make any kind of career in the industry I will need to leave the uk for greener pastures. If the industry recieves some tax breaks then the uk could be a viable option to start up but really I'm thinking canada or even australia would be my best bet

real_nimrod
real_nimrod

@welshskaterdude Also speaking as a british citizen, and a student...are you really attacking the tories for making uni expensive? 'cos the thirty grand worth of debt labour has been kind enough to impose on me for getting a degree suggests this is a common fault, not one of just the tories...

x-2tha-z
x-2tha-z

Every sector in the UK is struggling at the moment, not just the games industry. I don't see why they should be given special treatment above anyone else.

Quadster
Quadster

I am not suprised they downplayed the importance of the games industry in this country, i mean it's only one of the biggest this country has besides Music, film and whatever else there's a huge market for. (oh yeah, even though i don't smoke, Booze and Tabacco to which they tax the hell out of, and what won't they put a tax on, eh?) Gives me the impression that lot in westminster still think us the gamers are a lazy lot. IDIOTS!

collingtonuk
collingtonuk

lol, welshskaterdude you are embarrassingly politically misinformed, but you sound like a labour voter so its no great surprise. You have to remember the current government had broke the country, we have no money left. I love games but if it comes to keeping the NHS going or giving tax breaks to the games industry I know what i'd rather have. And to say the tories don't believe in expansion is ridiculous, your mistaking them for labour and their centralisation and big government system. Typical ignorant blinkered leftie.

welshskaterdude
welshskaterdude

being a British citizen looking to get into the game industry in any way shape or form. I know exactly how hard it is becoming to just get a job working with games. The industry has gone haywire over here at the moment and just trying to get a job in the sector is reaching almost impossible levels of difficulty. you would have more luck getting through demon souls without dying once. it really is on a rapid decline and just getting a little bit more financial support from the government would help generate quite literally hundreds, maybe even thousands of jobs. To give more people a chance to work in the glorious industry that is video games. But we are talking about the Conservative Party here, they don't believe in expansion. They think the rich should remain rich. and the poor should remain poor. its preposterous really. I mean if they did go into power they are talking about upping the cost of a university education to astronomical levels meaning only those who are well off can actually afford to get a diploma whilst those with nothing struggle because they don't have an education. which will mean there would be a lack in fresh new talent into the British game industry for a long time.

Orihime89
Orihime89

Taxcuts for everyone = more jobs

okassar
okassar

Cloud37, some, not all most at least take political science or business administration but ya most come to politics innocent and thinking they're going to change the world then BAM! Lobbyists offering them 500 thousand dollars plus for a different opinion on a certain issue that could affect the lobbyist's company/country that's how oil companies, Israel, company monopolies, etc... always get their way give'em 2 years and you have a rotten, greedy politician there's not that many people in the world that would resist lobbyist money, and most are too turned off by politics in the first place

Cloud737
Cloud737

Typical of politicians... What can you expect, that's the only "job" not requiring a degree or education, not to mention that people, especially politicians, are stupid.

Daxo90
Daxo90

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