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Streamline closes Amsterdam production facility

Co-production company feels the bite of tough market conditions in Europe

Streamline Studios has told that is has taken the decision to close its Amsterdam production facility, with the loss of ten jobs there, following a difficult past six months.

According to the company's VP, Hector Fernandez, a number of contracts fell by the wayside over the summer months, while one of its biggest clients went bust. Those issues, combined with a strengthening Euro meant that the cost of doing business for the mostly US-based publisher became prohibitive.

"It was a triple hit that created a 'perfect storm' where we had to make this tough decision," he said, talking exclusively to today. "We're closing down our production studio in Amsterdam, however the group behind Streamline Studios and all of its workings will continue to live on. We're basically taking a step back, reassessing the situation, and then essentially beginning our re-invention."

The industry is now facing what Fernandez terms a "new economic reality" and while he hopes no other developers have to go through a similar process to Streamline, he does think that the numbers are going to make it tough to continue along traditional development lines in Europe.

"At our height, our payroll per month was more than most payrolls per year in Asia," he explained. "We need to be vigilant on reducing the cost of development for European developers."

And he added that while some sectors of the industry are looking to government tax breaks, he feels that there may be other routes which are more sustainable in the longer term.

"I honestly don't think this is as much about giving a handout, as much as it is a hand-up - and by no means do I think that a tax credit is a handout, but there needs to be a way for government to be able to recognise the significance and importance that this creative industry is playing, that goes beyond just lip service," he said.

"It needs to be looked at as more than just the cultural staple it is, but as a vibrant industry that is producing the most significant entertainment experiences of this century. People don't want to just play games; they want to be able to participate in the creation of them

"One way that Government can assist is by developing mechanisms outside of tax credits that increase the flexibility of production and actually respect the business model that the industry finds itself in - it's less ICT software-development and more production-oriented, and that's something that not only here in The Netherlands but across Europe has to be recognised.

"There are ways to stay competitive without thinking that handing out money is the way to do it. It could be in employment laws, in social benefits, in the ability to provide more incentives and discounts on hardware and software - just something that can reduce the overall cost of burn here."

The full exclusive interview with Hector Fernandez is available on now.