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UK spend on Video Games Tax Relief rose to record £582.6m in 2019

But number of projects receiving interim certification reduces as console cycle nears its end

The UK's Video Games Tax Relief initiative reached new milestones last year as the number of projects receiving final certification and spending on those projects rose to record highs.

UK spend on games that received final certification was reported as £582.6 million according to the BFI, via UKIE. That's a 189% increase on the £201.9 million reported in 2018.

The number of games that received final certification increased to 247 -- the highest number for a single year to date.

However, the amount of titles that received interim certification lowered last year, dropping from 174 to 139. This has been attributed to the late stage in the console cycle as games companies focus on preparing for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.

UKIE also reports that overall product budgets have risen, quadrupling to £1.16 billion, and the related proportion in UK expenditure dropped from 76.5% to 50.2%.

"This indicates that development work in the UK is an integral part of multinational projects that may otherwise have been made elsewhere," the trade body said.

Video Games Tax Relief was introduced in 2014 as a way for developers to offset the financial risks of developing in the UK. Much of the spend connected to tax relief goes towards projects by larger publishers, with Rocksteady and Creative Assembly criticised for their claims.

Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar Games has also come under fire, with think tank TaxWatch UK claiming it is abusing the system and has not paid corporation tax in ten years. While it has yet to address the latter claim, Rockstar has defended its use of video games tax relief, observing it has enabled the company to invest further in the UK and create over 1,000 jobs.

You can find a full guide on how to apply for and claim tax relief over at the GamesIndustry.biz Academy.

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James Batchelor avatar

James Batchelor


James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. He is based in Essex and has been a B2B games journalist since 2006