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45 games approved for French tax breaks

Guillaume de Fondaumiere praises "step in the right direction" but calls for more projects to be accepted

The first round of games under development to receive tax breaks by the French government have been approved, and between them are expected to generate up to EUR 40 million (GBP 35 million) for local developers.

Out of 120 projects presented for evaluation, 45 were successful in receiving the benefits, which, as reported in late 2007, met the "criteria of quality, originality and contribute to cultural diversity".

"Right from the start, the DG Competition wanted to impose a very strict cultural frame for games to be eligible to any incentive," explained Guillaume de Fondaumière, President of SNJV, the region's trade body.

"After almost two years of argumentation, we had obtained a number of concessions which I hoped would enable a significant number of projects to benefit from this tax credit."

Of those projects approved, 45 per cent were Nintendo DS projects with an average budget of EUR 281,000 (GBP 250,000), 20 per cent were Wii projects for EUR 2.7 million (GBP 2.3 million), 16 per cent PC projects for 2.5 million (GBP 2.2 million), while PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 projects accounted for a further 15 per cent, averaging at EUR 11.2 million (GBP 9.9 million).

The French initiative will see 90 per cent of the total budgets - amounting to EUR 170 million (GBP 150.6 million) - spent within the nation, with 4 per cent going out to other EU countries, and 6 per cent to countries further afield.

The SNJV has produced a detailed handbook which has been handed over to its members to help them prepare any future presentations and maximise their chances to obtain the certification.

It is hoped that this step will help secure the region's games industry as it faces increased pressure from incentives laden regions such as Canada.

"I have always said that the cultural restrictions imposed by Brussels on the French videogame production tax credit were nonsensical and would not allow all developers to be on par with fellow producers in other parts of the world, in particular in Quebec," commented de Fondaumière.

"However, I also see that, as it exists now in France, the measure will generate between EUR 30 and EUR 40 million (GBP 26-35 million) for studios operating in France over the next two years alone. It represents a step in the right direction that will hopefully help a good number of studios better compete on the international marketplace."

de Fondaumière concluded: "I hope that our experience will help fellow representative bodies across Europe convince their governments to not only put in place a similar tax credit, but also encourage all to pursue the lobbying work that we initiated in Brussels in order to convince the European Commission that all games deserve to be included in such a policy. All videogames, regardless of nature, are a form of cultural expression and European game creation must now urgently be preserved."

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James Lee