Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Old(er) people call for tax breaks for the videogames industry

A few weeks ago, my fellow East Anglian, Nich Starling, got quite aerated about a recommendation made by the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications. I did suggest that he was being a bit hasty at the time, and that the proposal (that BBC Worldwide sell off a stake in itself to raise money for expansion) wasn't necessarily a bad one. As it turned out, it wasn't a recommendation, merely a welcoming of Government intentions to do exactly that. Not quite the same thing, but there you go.

However, I did feel that I should take an interest, especially as Nich was, probably inadvertently, attacking my wife, who sits on said Select Committee. So, reading the copy of the report that was lying around the house (who needs 'Hello!' magazine when such reading matter is available), I wondered what other pearls of wisdom were to be found.

And, in paragraphs 84 to 88, I discovered that they had considered the videogames industry. Apparently, there were, in 2008, 155 British companies specialising in developing games, 30 companies publishing and producing games, and 35 providing games support. Employment in these companies amounted to nearly 9,000 jobs and a turnover of £625 million. Not exactly chicken feed, I would suggest.

Evidently, other countries want to encourage an indigenous videogames industry. The French offer a 20% tax break for games production, whilst Quebec bolsters a Canadian tax break of 37% for going into production with a provincial scheme whereby they pay 37.5% of the wage costs of game developers. Serious stuff, and certainly attractive to the comparatively young and footloose.

So, the Select Committee have stated,

"We recognise the claims of the videogames industry for support in the face of foreign government-subsidised competition, and recommend that the Government consider providing tax incentives for videogames production."

In a way, that's quite impressive, and if the Government acts, maybe there will be some free games for the Bishop of Manchester, one of the Select Committee's members. I don't see him as a keen player of Grand Theft Auto V though...

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