As reported on Develop on Tuesday, the UK Government has pledged to review whether it should implement tax breaks for the games industry.
As guided in the Digital Britain White Paper, Brown’s Government has “committed to work with the industry to collect and review the evidence for a tax relief to promote the sustainable production for online or physical sale of culturally British video games.”
Tiga CEO Richard Wilson, who has been calling for such a measure for many months, told Develop he was delighted with the commitments set out on the White Paper.
“This is major progress,” he said, “and I think it reflects really well on all the games companies who have worked with Tiga, and all the companies who have worked on the Games Up campaign last year.”
“Of course this isn’t a final commitment,” he added, “but we’re making more progress, this is a major step forward.”
“We weren’t getting this a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. In the past we’ve had some Government ministers suggest that if developers don’t like the tax regime in the UK they should simply leave the country. So this really is progress.”
Wilson also revealed that he had been assured, privately, that this pledge is something that the Government is serious about.
Asked whether an announcement to review the situation was a delay tactic – considering the Digital Britain report went through a review process on its own – Wilson remained encouraged.
“If this is was a delaying tactic then the Government will have been very short sighted, because they would be working against an industry with 28,000 people in, and millions of players. So it wouldn’t be the wisest idea politically.”
“Promises can be seen as half-full or half-empty, and I am an optimist so I see this as half-full,” he added. “This is a success story for the industry. We know it’s not all over but this is a major step forward.”
Asked whether he thinks the review process will be finished by the time the next general election comes round – which could effectively throw the review in flux – Wilson said he wasn’t sure.
“But, even if Labour or an opposition party pledges something in their manifesto about a tax break for games production, this will be a massive step forwards for the games industry.”
“We now have something in a White Paper, with a pre-budget report coming in November, who’s to say they won’t put their proposal in before then?”
“So obviously I hope the present Government takes action before the next election, it really ought to, because as we’ve said before the cost of implementing tax breaks would be just a rounding error for the Government, but to us it will have a mass effect.”
Wilson concluded that, despite Labour’s unsteady future as the UK’s governing party, there is a change of tune permeating throughout Westminster on the games industry, one that is more respectful and understanding.
“We’re hearing such positive noises from the main opposition parties, with the Conservatives and the SNP (Scottish National Party) voicing their support – all this shows that the tide is moving our way,” he added.