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UK vets praise tax relief for games sector

By Matt Martin

Thu 25 Mar 2010 9:59am GMT / 5:59am EDT / 2:59am PDT

Livingstone, Braben, Oliver congratulate years of lobbying by TIGA, ELSPA

More UK games veterans have added their support and praise to the news that the games industry is to benefit from a tax relief system designed to encourage growth in the sector.

Yesterday the government said that it was adopting TIGA's proposals for an initiative that will allow less tax to be paid on games that are a success, provided they first pass a test based on cultural relevance.

"I’m excited to hear the government has listened to our calls for tax relief. The video games industry makes a valuable contribution to the UK economy and this government initiative can only help to support further growth," offered Ian Livingstone, life president of Eidos.

"I’m sure it will encourage investment in the UK, preserving existing jobs and creating new ones; helping to re-establish the UK to the forefront of the global industry in the creation of new video game IP."

Frontier's David Braben also paused to praise the achievement, but offered a not of caution as to whether the government's announcement would be carried through to completion.

"It is really heartening to finally see government recognising our industry, albeit on the eve of an election,” he said. “Well done to Tom Watson, Ed Vaizey and Don Foster in making this happen. Let's raise a glass and hope that it is a genuine plan to do something, rather than just another plan to 'consult'."

Blitz Games' Philip Oliver has held meetings with chancellor Alistair Darling recently, but said the success of the lobbying for tax breaks was a team effort from the UK, in particular TIGA and ELSPA.

"I am very pleased and honoured to have been part of the team that has lobbied government consistently over the last few years.

He added: "It is a wise investment that the government has made today and the whole of the UK industry applauds them for this decision."

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Mike Rusby 3d character modeller

21 1 0.0
So its only games that reflect British culture that will qualify for this kind of tax relief?. What if you wanted to make a sci fi game then you would be screwed!!!! you would have to make a game that features aliens wearing Union jack t-shirts
Already this limits the kind of game you can make. What we need is a comprehensive tax relief system that will enable us to compete with the likes of Canada.
cheers to easterislandnick for this info

"Though the exact criteria of the tax break requirements is yet to be decided, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has indicated that it will follow a similar model to that currently applied to the UK film industry.

Under that model, those seeking relief must score at least 16 points out of a possible 31 in a ‘culturally British’ test."

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Mike Rusby on 25th March 2010 10:17am

Posted:6 years ago


Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

962 187 0.2
I wonder what are their conditions to have a reasonable level of 'cultural relevance'...

Posted:6 years ago


Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 708 0.8
Mike, it's a bit more detailed than that, but it seems that you wouldn't necessarily have to feature UK locations, British characters etc, to pass the cultural test.

From Develop:

"a) Cultural Content (16 pts) – Determining whether the film’s narrative is set in the UK, whether its lead characters are British, whether the film is centred on British subject matter, and if the dialogue is recorded “in the English language”.
b) Cultural Contribution (4 pts) – Determining whether the film represents “a diverse British culture, British heritage or British creativity”.

c) Cultural Hubs (3 pts) – Determining whether the film is produced in the UK studios.
d) Cultural Practitioners (8 pts) – Determining whether the cast, crew and/or producers come from the EEA (European Economic Area), with points based on each role."

Any title would need 16 out of a possible 31 points. If we take points b and c to be a given, there's 7 points. Point d would probably be a given too, as most (though by no means all) staff will come from within the EEA - that would be 15 points in total. If you assume 4 points for each of the subsections within point a, then at the very least dialogue would presumably be in English, so that would bump it up to 19 points, thereby passing the test. And that would presumably be without any British characters etc. Having said that, appreciate I'm simplifying it and guessing a bit, but I don't think it would necessarily be a big issue.

Maybe it's better to say that the entire production needs to pass a culturally British test, rather than the game itself, if that makes sense.

Further details:

[link url=

Oh, and on your point about needing a comprehensive system like Canada, that can't really happen while we're part of the EU - it would be illegal here as it would distort the internal market. Sucks, eh?

Posted:6 years ago


Mike Rusby 3d character modeller

21 1 0.0
Thanks for adding more detail to that Fran, interesting to read
But still paragraph (a seems very restrictive in itself and that is the biggest points value

TBh they might be a bit more flexible than we imagine, but it just seems like cultural identity a bit of a stupid thing to base qualification for tax relief on.
They will possibly modify the wording to reflect the way games are made.

Posted:6 years ago


Phil Elliott Project Lead, Collective; Head of Community (London), Square Enix

186 58 0.3
There's more detail on the cultural question in a feature we originally published last year:

Posted:6 years ago


Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 708 0.8
Mike, pleasure.

Cheers Phil.

Posted:6 years ago


Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

962 187 0.2
Thank you for the extra detail Fran.
I don't see a huge issue coming out of that system for most development here in any case.

Posted:6 years ago


Royston Baader Studying Applied Computing, University of Hull

1 0 0.0
@ Fran,

Thanks for the insight - I was a bit confused initially, but this is excellent detail. - *snip* Inappropriate comment.

@ Phil,

Thanks for the extra information!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by a moderator on 25th March 2010 5:30pm

Posted:6 years ago


Michael Abraham game designer

37 0 0.0
sounds good overall, but i'm kinda unhappy about that cultural requirement part.
how do you define cultural creativity or cultural games? personally i cannot think of any game or game style/type which makes me think of an association with britain.

i hope this doesn't turn into a system similar to what exists with the french movie industry, where the quality of the movies has been sacrificed to qualify for the tax breaks.

Posted:6 years ago


Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 708 0.8
Actually, I just read on the tax breaks round up that last year only 40% of French games qualified for their tax breaks - surprised me how low that is. I hope if something is introduced here then the figures will be higher...

Posted:6 years ago


Chris Kirby Producer

6 0 0.0
This has just been cancelled in the emergency budget!

Posted:6 years ago

Yup. unfortunately Osborne was highly dismisse "poorly targeted tax break" Whisky tango Foxtrot!!! Our industry has much to contribute, inspire and grow as world leaders in the entertainment industry.

Posted:6 years ago


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