In what is increasingly looking like a brinkmanship contest with the UK government, Scottish developer Realtime Worlds has threatened to move its offices to Ireland unless game tax breaks arrive in the UK.
The Irish government is making a pugnacious move to revive its economy by offering Scottish game studios what they desire the most – reasonable corporate tax breaks.
And Realtime Worlds – one of the shining stars in Scotland’s game development sector - has revealed that it would be interested in moving if Ireland comes calling.
“If the package on offer in Ireland was attractive we’d have to give it serious consideration,” said Colin Macdonald, studio manager of Realtime Worlds.
“Dundee is a great place to be based, one of the main hubs for computer games in Britain,” he added, speaking to newspaper Herald Scotland.
“At the end of the day we’ve got to look after our bottom line.”
Realtime Worlds currently employs around 300 staff following an aggressive expansion scheme. The studio has made a significant impact on the game sector with the Xbox 360 sleeper-hit Crackdown and the upcoming All Points Bulletin.
Facing the loss of one of its most prodigious creative forces in the entertainment sector, the Scottish government has issued an immediate response to the threat. Scotland wants independence from Britain’s harmful game tax policy.
“Our view is that Scotland should have control of key fiscal levers in order to do more,” said a spokesman for the Scottish government.
“This is a clear example of the need for radical change which at least provides full fiscal autonomy for Scotland.
“Until we have those powers we’ll continue to make the UK government aware of the implications for the Scottish gaming industry. We’ll also work with the industry to provide evidence of the impact.”
And in case the UK government attempts to call a bluff from Realtime Worlds, the Dundee studio has revealed just how close it was to moving far beyond the jurisdiction of neighbouring Ireland:
“After giving it consideration we didn’t relocate to Canada,” said Macdonald, “but we lost some of our key staff to that country.
“Ireland is a lot closer to home than Canada, so Scottish policy-makers should regard it as a potentially serious threat. They need to make sure a level playing field here or they will lose some of us and lose out on a potential boom.”