Ian Livingstone jokingly questioned why it took the European Commission so long to approve tax credits for UK games developers, claiming the evidence that video games are cultural is obvious.
The author of the Next Gen Skills report gave a speech during a special event held by UKIE and the TV Coalition to celebrate the long-awaited introduction of games tax breaks, where Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne also praised the games industry.
Referring to the long delay since the government first approved tax relief back in 2012, Livingstone laughed: “The only strange thing is why did it take the EC so long to figure out whether or not games are cultural. At what point does a piece of art not become cultural once it’s animated or interactive? Do they not own smartphones? Have they never played Candy Crush Saga or Words With Friends?
“Why are games seen as the poor relation of the creative industries? Video games are a powerhouse in the digital economy, bringing together art and science at every turn. It creates valuable intellectual property that is scalable to worldwide markets. Grand Theft Auto V generated $1.5bn in less than a week – this is a great British success story that should be celebrated around the world as well as in the UK.”
Livingstone went on to discuss the “incredible growth” of the global games industry, currently generating revenues of $50bn per year – a figure that is expected to rise to $90bn by 2016.
“Technology drives innovation in games like no other entertainment industry,” he said. “New platforms and new ways of playing are reaching new global audiences, and it’s important that the UK is at the forefront of this opportunity. Witness the current excitement that’s surround virtual reality, or the new consoles Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Online PC gaming is growing at a blistering rate. One billion new smartphones are projected to be sold in 2017, each one a games platform.
“The Chancellor mentioned the TV credits that won over Game of Thrones – it’s vital Britain wins the ‘Game of Phones’.”