Rockstarâ??s tale of a Serb-Croatâ??s American Dream could have qualified for UK tax breaks

GTAIV â??would likely qualify as culturally Britishâ??

One of the most lucrative games of the current generation would have had “a very good chance” of qualifying for game tax breaks, an industry body has said.

GTAIV – a game principally developed at Edinburgh outfit Rockstar North – would likely pass as a ‘culturally British’ game under qualification rules set up by the UK Government, said TIGA CEO Richard Wilson.

The revelation comes in a bid to curb fears that the ‘culturally British’ tax relief test might restrict creative options for UK studios.

In March Alistair Darling set aside £90 million to support UK studios with game tax breaks. But the money will only go to ‘culturally British video games’ – with much hinging on how ‘culturally British’ is defined.

Wilson insisted that British studios “won’t have to base a game on double-decker busses” to become culturally British.

“It’s going to be quite easy to qualify for this,” he said. “There’s a wide criteria for the cultural test, and it’s a points system, which a lot of games would pass for.

“Studios get points for senior staff being British and working in the UK. Also, you get points for games reflecting European or UK cultural heritage.

“So, in regards to cultural British heritage – if the game was based on a UK sport, or film, or myth or historical events – a studio would get points for tax relief.

“If your game is an original as opposed to being a sequel, you’ll get points. You will also get points for being innovative, or using new technology, or even being creative.”

Under these conditions, said Wilson, a number of today’s games would already qualify for game tax breaks. In fact, 44 per cent of current UK games would already, according to a TIGA study.

In a interview with Develop, Wilson was asked whether a game like GTAIV – if developed entirely in the UK – would qualify for game tax breaks.

TIGA CEO Richard Wilson said he could only speculate on whether GTAIV would qualify for tax breaks. “But,” he said, “from what I know – I think there’s a very good chance of that passing.”

Asked if FIFA 10 – a game built at EA Canada – would qualify for tax breaks if developed in the UK, Wilson said “I’d think it’d have a good chance, absolutely.”

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