Britsoft firms back official campaign for tax breaks

Michael French
Leading names from the UK games development sector have rallied together to kick-start a new campaign which formalises a joint call on the Government for games tax breaks and better higher education.

Called Games Up, the new campaign is backed by UK independent developer trade association Tiga, publisher association ELSPA - and a host of leading companies from the UK games industry - and comes as the call for the Government to seriously consider implementing tax relief to games studios intensifies.

The official founding of Games Up comes after months of repeated comments in the press by leading UK games industry names putting pressure on the Government, and seems to be an organised answer to MP Margaret Hodge's accusation in October last year that the games industry was not communicating to authorities with one voice.

Games Up will lobby both the media and politicians about an increasingly unbalanced playing field weighted against UK developers. Key evidence will include the Quebec region's 37.5 per cent tax rebates, the recent decision by the US state of Georgia to introduce a 20 per cent tax refund, and also last year's move by the EU to legalise France's 'cultural' 20 per cent tax break on games production.

Education is also a focus of the Games Up campaign - those involved in the project want to raise awareness of a skills shortage in the UK games development sector and will push for better further education in the key skills areas of maths, physics and computer science.

Eidos is one of the games firms supporting Games Up. The firm responsible for Tomb Raider recently restructured its business, and announced that while its headcount would fall in the UK its Montreal, Quebec studio would grow and take over more operations for the publisher.

As part of the campaign's unveiling in today's Mail on Sunday - the first indication of how serious the stakeholders are taking the push by taking it straight to the mainstream press - Eidos' creative director Ian Livingstone, said: "This country got off to a flying start in video games in the Eighties and it is no surprise that games such as Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto originated in Britain. A lot of companies are outsourcing development to other countries and games studios are looking to relocate.

"Eidos has set up a studio in Canada because of [Quebec's tax breaks]. Canada does not see its rebate as a handout but as an investment in industry."

More details on the Games Up campaign will be published on MCVuk.com's sister site Developmag.com over the next week.

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Tags: tiga , elspa , tax breaks , games up

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