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Tiga "disappointed" by Budget snub

Ignoring games industry represents "missed opportunity" according to CEO Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson, CEO of Tiga, has labelled the Government's Budget a "missed opportunity" and expressed puzzlement as to why tax breaks for games production haven't been adopted.

"At the time when the Government is spending GBP 671 billion in the current financial year it couldn't find 150 million over five years to invest in a tax break for games production," he told "I have to say that's pretty disappointing."

Today's Budget was unveiled without any mention of incentives for videogames production, despite an insistent letter campaign and negotiations started by Tiga on behalf of the games industry, which Wilson described as unacceptable.

"When you look at Government expenditure it's pretty awful, the Government's going to be spending GBP 28 billion on debt interest, which is GBP 8 billion pounds more than its spending on all of industry, employment and training," he explained. "It's pretty disappointing from the broad perspective of the games industry."

However, the head of the developer's trade body admitted there might be some helpful measures in the Budget.

"There are two things which I think are more positive," he said, explaining: "The first thing is that the Government is investing GBP 750 million in their strategic investment fund. I haven't seen the details of that but if some of that money is made available to small and medium sized enterprises in the games sector that would be encouraging and I would applaud that. Particularly if it's used in the form of investment finance for small and start-up businesses.

"Additionally, the GBP 250 million that's being allocated to help people get work experience in growth industries might be helpful - again it depends on the details but if it enables games businesses to give school people work experience then that can only be a good.

"One of the things Tiga has argued for over the past 14 months is for the Government to encourage and enable games businesses to offer education outreach programs to schools and colleges and to try and get students who might have an interest in [producing] games to actually experience that in a real life setting."

He added: "I just think it's a shame; it's a tragedy that the government can't, or chooses not to find, a small sum of GBP 150 million in five years for tax break in games production."

In reaction to the recent IMF report that predicted the UK's economy will shrink 4.1 per cent in 2009, Wilson described the Budget as a "missed opportunity" to "back a winner."

"NESTA put out a couple of documents recently in which they encouraged the Government to invest in growth industries. From a very elementary point of view, the government at this time should be backing those industries that are succeeding not industries of the past."

Wilson continued: "We know we have a competitive advantage in games production, we know we'd be even more competitive with a tax break on games production. So, it is a missed opportunity. I think it's a shame.

"On the key issue of tax competition and the key issue of structuring the tax system to help our industries be more successful in the future the Government has once again missed a trick."

Tiga's campaign to highlight the importance of the industry to the economy had been a success, according to Wilson, who was at a loss of words to explain why the Government failed to support tax breaks.

"I think the Government is very aware now of the importance of our industry. I think they do recognise that. But for some reason there seems to be another leap that they're not prepared to make and I can't explain it," he said.

"It's not because of the economic reasons because I think we've put out a very strong case over the last year about how important our sector is and the potential for the future but the government isn't making that next step - to back a winner."

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Latest comments (6)

Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd12 years ago
They are "investing" 500m+ on a crashing housing market. Try and find one investor in the whole world that would do this. How is this not gross incompetence?

time to place all bets on the other parties...all is lost with this one.
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Rupert Loman Founder & CEO, Gamer Network12 years ago
That's the problem though. These guys are useless and the alternatives are even worse!
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I was really hoping for some good news here today, it's a real shame that the government isn't backing an industry that would clearly help right this ship.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Maxwell Scott-Slade on 22nd April 2009 8:32pm

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Alex Wright-Manning Head of Recruitment, Splash Damage Ltd12 years ago
Yet another example of the complete incompetence of the incumbent government. To be honest i'm finding it harder to continue to class the UK as a democracy. Sure we get to vote, but with a choice of only two parties - neither of which are particularly appealing - and limited say in how the country is run, it's fast becoming a democracy in name alone.

I agree whole heartedly with Tam, how the goverment thought we could continue basing an economy on us selling our houses to each other is totally beyond me. The new 50% tax bracket is purely designed as a vote winner for the upcoming election, as lets be honest most of those who earn the 150k+ will certainly not vote for Labour, and I think they hope that the 'man on the street' will relish the fact that the rich are getting taxed more.

Sorry to go off on one, but i'm sick of the way this once great country has been run into the ground by greed. Once again the government back a losing horse, and we and our children will pay for it.

p.s. Freedom for Tooting!
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D12 years ago
You know, part of the problem may be that we talk the industry here UP too much. Because we don't want to admit that we're struggling in any shape or form, we say everything's rosy. So the government sees the industry as doing well enough to not justify any further help.

Yet we're shipping a lot of our art production overseas because it's "cheaper" - even though we're allowing our skills base in this country to dwindle. God help the industry here when those "cheaper" territories start doing their own games and their artists start working on those. And they will - might be a few years, but they're not going to do our dogsbody work for the rest of their lives.

We're losing staff to Canada because their studios can afford to BEAT our salaries even though the cost of living is lower there, due to the stupidly generous tax breaks they get.

But as an industry we'll continue to exclaim that everything's okay because, well, we're muddling by, producing some great stuff with one hand tied behind our backs and our feet tied together. Maybe we should be admitting that we're not okay - venture capital is drying up, there's a dearth of qualified staff at home, and all we're doing is training up our competitors so that three or four years down the line they can create better games than us. Rupert, you guys really should do an article on how easy (or otherwise) junior art people are finding it to break into the industry here. And pose the question: how many of the people extolling the virtues of art out sourcing (call it off shoring if it makes you feel better) would get jobs in the industry today if they were juniors? I'll bet there's a significant number who wouldn't.

I won't even get into the political stuff, I'd be here all day - well said Rupert and Alex, though.
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Fran Mulhern, think it's sad that you're saying art is "dogsbody" work.
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