Culture minister Ed Vaizey has suggested that game tax breaks isn’t as pivotal an issue as many in the industry say.
The Conservative MP bravely faced game industry professionals – and members of specialist and national press – during a speaker session at the Develop Conference in Brighton.
Asked why the coalition government snubbed the industry’s call for game tax breaks, Vaizey responded: "To put it bluntly, you haven’t made the case for game tax breaks, because the chancellor didn’t accept it in the Budget."
He added: "But don’t think just because we don’t have tax breaks the industry is going to fall over. That just so wide of the mark."
Vaizey went on to claim that, after the coalition government formed, "there was a change of tone in the sense of urgency of dealing with the deficit in terms of spending. We lost the married couples tax break – certain other priorities fell by the wayside."
But he told the packed room of game developers that the UK "remains in an environment where you can compete".
Said Vaizey: "I understand the video games industry’s disappointment in what happened – but one has to look at it in a wider context."
Vaizey was asked why Chancellor George Osborne described games tax breaks as "poorly targeted" in the Budget, though his response was that he didn’t know, because he "did not draft the Budget".
He added: "Tax policy is very much the province of the Chancellor… I can’t emphasise enough that I’m not the Chancellor – but the Treasury is always open to rational argument and debate."
The Treasury has previously been asked what Osborne meant by "poorly targeted", and has so far declined to offer an explanation.