The biggest names in UK games development have told MCV that they’re overjoyed that the European Commission has rubberstamped tax breaks for UK studios.
But they warn the hard work must begin now to prove they are worth the investment from the UK Government.
Tax breaks for UK games developers were proposed in the 2011 Budget, but were postponed in 2012 as the European Commission needed evidence that the financial relief was actually needed.
Here the games industry’s top developers share their thoughts on the news:
“Games Tax Relief will have a very significant effect on the UK games industry,” said Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley.
“I predict we’ll see a number of sizeable new start-ups funded by large non-UK companies appearing in the months following the announcement.
“There will also be a surge in the number and quality of UK based independent games being made. A more forgiving financial environment means greater creative freedom so more edgy, creatively focussed titles will get the green light.
“Tax breaks can make all the difference and turn a potentially risky investment into a profitable release. Games Tax Relief will help to level the international playing field, and drive the UK games industry forward, enabling UK studios to make more world-beating award winning games.
“In terms of financial impact TIGA’s figures demonstrate GTR will lead to an estimated £188m in additional investment for UK game developers over the next five years alone. We’re talking about an industry wide 25 per cent reduction in the cost of games development in the UK, which is massive.
“What we do have to do is keep showing them and telling them that the video game sector, and particularly UK-tax-paying developers can really help the UK balance of payments - as we’re almost always export driven, and trying to reach that global audience.”
Ian Livingstone CBE, Ukie Vice Chair said: “This is a great boost for the UK games industry, and excellent news for jobs and growth. There is no doubting the cultural, social and economic importance of games, the fastest-growing entertainment industry in the world. The new production tax credit will help UK games development talent to create even more world class, culturally British content for global audiences to enjoy. This support will undoubtedly result in a greater contribution from the games industry to the UK’s digital economy.”
Radiant Worlds’ Philip Oliver added: “As a founder of TIGA, Blitz Games Studios and more recently Radiant Worlds and the Made in Creative UK campaign, I’ve been a major champion of the UK Games Development industry for over 25 years.
“Sadly in the last 10 to 15 years we’ve seen our position in the global leaderboard of game developers drop from third place to sixth. This is largely due to foreign governments introducing large tax breaks and subsidies to encourage the growth and competitiveness of their burgeoning game development industries, as they recognise the importance of games as one of the most - if not the most - important entertainment media of the 21st Century.
“The UK government, lead by the likes of Ed Vaizey and Tom Watson, have been huge supporters of the UK industry in recent years. They fully recognise both the value of the UK games industry and importance of the introduction of the Tax break to help re-balance our industry in the face of tough global, subsidised competition. I know how frustrated they’ve been by the EU enquiry and the delays it’s caused, but I congratulate them, their departments and other contributors such as TIGA and UKie in finally overcoming this last hurdle.
“I’ve witnessed very tough times, when I’ve lost large competitive tenders to government subsidised studios located in other countries. Ultimately this support will invigorate our industry, it will encourage investment, create new jobs and help us rise up the global leaderboard of game developers. I sincerely hope the treasury will see fit to kick start this growth by back dating the Tax breaks to last April when they first announced them.
“Today we can celebrate, tomorrow we will create awesome games, creating many new jobs and proving to the British tax payer the value of the UK Games Industry.
Paul Jackson, CEO, Dovetail Games continued: "As a business working to recruit world-class British talent in the Medway regeneration area, we welcome today’s news from the Chancellor. It’s vital that British developers and publishers are given this much-needed support not only to remain at the cutting-edge of a rapidly moving industry, but to keep our home grown talent in this country."
Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard said: “Tax breaks for the British games industry have been a very long time coming, but while their appearance now appears to be imminent, this is far from being the end of the matter. Studios across the UK need to collectively show that the fight for their introduction has been a worthwhile one by maximising their potential to deliver a robust, expanding games industry in this country.
“Our industry should be held in the highest regard, strengthening the British economy and fuelling job creation, both things the emergence of tax breaks will help reinforce.”
Codemasters CEO Rod Cousens added: “with the threat of uncertainty now removed, UK software creators and developers can now map out their future local resource requirements and stare down competition from overseas knowing it is more of a level playing field. It can only add to inward investment and innovation - and these have been hallmarks of the British creative and engineering scene for many years. Those who have ridden that rollercoaster may get some payback.”
Ella Romanos, entrepreneur and games developer said: “It’s great news that the European Commission has at last approved the tax breaks that we are sure will help the UK games industry grow and compete effectively on an international scale. I look forward to seeing the tax breaks launch, and how games and companies will benefit from them over the coming few years.”
Chair of Mastertronic and Ukie, Andy Payne enthused: “At last. We have already had one false start back in 2010 and now we have had to wait since April 2013 for these to be finally agreed by the EU. But let’s put all this behind us and build connected winning technology and entertainment businesses for the 21st century. The film, TV and animation industries have benefited greatly from the production tax credits, so stand back and watch games grow and grow, delivering wealth and jobs."
James Brooksby, CEO of Born Ready Games said: ”The Tax Breaks for the UK games industry have been hard fought for and I am incredibly pleased that the industry has finally been recognised for what it is, and what it can be in the future. Born Ready Games has gone through the process of trying to raise investment in the video games sector and I truly believe that the tax breaks will make a huge difference in businesses’ abilities to raise finance in the future. The tax breaks are also going to help secure jobs in this industry, which on the whole has previously been ignored as a very important part of Britain’s creative sector.”
Noirin Carmody, COO of Revolution Software said: “This is very welcome news for the UK games industry that will secure economic and cultural sustainability for the industry as a whole. The tax breaks will maintain creativity and innovation in established games businesses like Revolution resulting to increased growth and encourage new start-ups.
“Revolution have been writing games in York for over 24 years and during this time we have experienced how difficult it can be to balance creating original content with the commercial realities of a crowded global marketplace and attracting the best talent. The new tax breaks will give us and other games business of all sizes, throughout the UK, an amazing opportunity to attract skilled talent that we need to make new and exciting British content that can sell to an expanding global audience.”engineering scene for many years. Those who have ridden that rollercoaster may get some payback!”