[The French government and European Commission have agreed in principle to fund tax credits for video games, due to their cultural importance - and Gamasutra tagged along with the French cultural minister and Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot to find out why it matters.]
14, 2007, something unusual happened in Paris -- odd, even. It was
crucial for the French video game industry, and maybe for the
perception of video games as a whole. Christine Albanel, the new
French secretary of culture and communication -- not the one who gave
Knight in the Order of Arts and Literature medals to Shigeru
Miyamoto, Michel Ancel and Frédérick Raynal back in
March 2006 -- paid an official visit to one of Ubisoft's studios in
Montreuil, a couple of miles at the east of Paris gates.
pay Ubisoft such a visit?" we candidly asked Yves Guillemot, CEO
of Ubisoft (pictured with Albanel below). "Well, the tax credits for video game productions
have just been voted in yesterday by the European Commission. We
wanted to talk a little bit about it, and Ms. Albanel wanted to show
that she cares about video games, and that she intends to participate
and help this industry to grow".
the general public isn't aware, for several years now French video
game developers have been lobbying to get some help from the
government. Ninety French studios are represented by l'Association
des Producteurs d'Oeuvres Multimédia, which translates to "The
Association of Producers of Multimedia Works" and is abbreviated
to l'APOM, or "Apple". The president of l'APOM,
Guillaume de Fondaumière, is also General Director of studio
Quantic Dream (Fahrenheit,
aka Indigo Prophecy).
According to de Fondaumière, "In 1990, 3000 people were
working in the video game industry in France, now only 1300 to 1500
[do]." Since its foundation in 2002, l'APOM has fought for
recognition of the French video game industry.
Whether ruled by a
left or right wing administration, France has a special interest in
all things cultural, and regularly vouches for "the French
cultural exception" to its European partners. Until recently,
however, video game activity was not a part of the French cultural
aura -- even though the French studios already had some financial
In 2003, the
First Secretary of a prior administration allowed some funding for
multimedia founding to go to French game studios. "Yes, the 4
million euros promised were quickly available and were indeed
useful," acknowledged de Fondaumière, "but since
then we had difficulty to pass the idea of the tax credits."
Yves Guillemot said, "This case is 4 years old. It's not new,
but now that the European Commission did give its green light we need
the French government to fully be behind it to accelerate and
validate the process now." Fundamentally, this decision
authorizes France to apply a 20% tax credit to support video game
production (with a 3 million euro limit per studio and per year).