Alistair Darling’s Budget was a landmark moment for the games industry – but UK studios most show they are worth the £90m invested in them.
That’s the message from industry bosses who say the UK has to promote itself as a global force in order to beef up its studios and local workforce.
Ubisoft Reflections boss Gareth Edmondson – who previously said that Ubi would have added 1,000 staff to its Newcastle studio had tax breaks been available – told MCV: “Tax relief should lead to increased investment, jobs, innovation, as well as stimulating the development of new IP and preventing further brain drain.”
Research shows that over five years tax relief would create or save 3,550 graduate jobs, while generating £457 million in new development expenditure.
But that just won’t happen without the industry standing up to be counted.
Eidos life president Ian Livingstone added: “Long term we’ve now got to get everyone to understand the UK is a cost-effective place to make games. We are one of the most creative nations in the world. Here is the opportunity to build on that and stop the UK industry decline.
“I think you will see announcements in the coming years that existing studios are expanding and new studios starting, with inward investment into the UK.”
Codemasters CEO Rod Cousens says it is time for the UK to steal back talent overseas, and pledged to expand his own studios using tax incentives.
“The UK industry needs to actively promote itself as a place to invest,” he said. “It needs to do unto others what they did to the UK. In terms of Codemasters, we have focused on UK development with multiple studios. There is great scope for expansion within the existing structure providing the investment incentive is readily accessible.”
Gary Dunn, Sega’s MD of European development, believes that the UK is on track to be the the most attractive place in the world to make games:
“We are now super-competitive,” he said. “Not only do we have the talent, we have the financial incentives to go with it. When you look at the tax breaks and the exchange rate between the dollar and pound, we are a lot cheaper than most places.”
And Sony’s senior VP of worldwide studios Europe, Michael Denny, says that such inward investment will drive more innovation from UK games developers.
He said: “Increased investment will undoubtedly assist in the creation of better facilities, better training, better environments and world class studios that are capable of attracting the best talent from the UK and all over the world.”