UK trade body TIGA has released the results of a new research survey showing that 85 percent of developers in the UK support tax breaks for game production.
TIGA asserts that competitive subsidies from foreign countries and a lack of UK government support put the region's game industry at a disadvantage.
The association claims: "Until 2006, the [British games] industry was the third largest in the world based on revenue. However, the UK slipped to fourth position in 2007 and is expected to fall to fifth place in 2009. This is primarily because of the substantial support given by overseas governments to their video games industries in comparison to that given by the UK Government."
Of those 100 UK-based game industry CEOs and managing directors surveyed, 63% had faced skill shortages in the last 12 months. Of those developers who have experienced skill shortages, finding programmers was the most challenging position to fill, with 74% finding it hard to fill programmer vacancies.
When asked about the cause of the skill shortage, 88% believed the problem was a lack of skills, experience or qualifications. 70% said that greater availability of skilled labour would help their business.
The research looked at the main barriers to growth over the last 12 months. 41% cited foreign government subsidised competition and 31% said the domestic tax burden on business was a problem.
When asked what Government policies could help their business, 85% backed tax breaks for production, 77% recommended more liberal R&D tax credits, 51% called for lower corporation tax and 50% advocated lower rates of national insurance contributions.
86 percent of developers are wholly self-funded, the study says, and TIGA says they struggle against financial limitations -- 60 percent want a greater availability of financial resources and alternatives.
"If we want the UK games industry to remain in the premiership the Government must act," urges TIGA CEO Richard Wilson. "An announcement in the 2009 Budget to introduce a 20 percent tax break for games production would be a welcome start."
"If the Government sits on its hands and does nothing, investment in the industry could fall by up to £180 million and nearly 1,700 jobs could be lost over the same five year period."
More survey results and comments from UK game industry figures are available at the official TIGA website