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Braben: UK Dev Relief Shouldn't Have Been 'Classed As A Tax Break'

Braben: UK Dev Relief Shouldn't Have Been 'Classed As A Tax Break'

July 9, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

July 9, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

The UK government's decision to scrap planned tax breaks for game developers from its budget in favor of an overall lower corporate tax has left many in the region's industry disappointed and discussing. Add to these Frontier's David Braben, who's urging a pragmatic approach toward finding a solution.

Braben says the region's industry should continue working with the government "to understand what has happened here." Although he tells Edge Online that the lack of tax relief "does do quite a lot of damage," he suggests the solution lies in discovering the government's reasoning and taking an alternate approach that considers it.

"The trouble is it got classed as a tax break," he says. "Call it a 'measure' or whatever, and it sounds different; it's [about] the way these things are presented. I think there are, within government, groups that have no belief in games. It's strange to me that the film tax break is treated differently from the games one."

For a developer like LostWinds and Kinectimals creator Frontier, however, the decision is "very disappointing," Braben adds. "The message is that we're not valued and that's a shame." Further, the studio -- and the UK industry in general -- will assuredly lose talent as a result, he adds.

"That is something that's happening," he says. "It's a question of whether it increases as a result of all of this."

Both the UK's Labour and Conservative parties had pledged to support tax breaks. At the same time, a more favorable public attitude toward games had been developing in the UK, led by a comprehensive review by Dr. Tanya Byron and increasing attention to ratings labels from PEGI. But it seems the climate for game developers in the UK has been increasingly challenging over recent weeks.

Tax breaks were scrapped from the budget late in June, as the government cited wider economic stress -- a move ELSPA's Michael Rawlinson called "cynical." Shortly thereafter, Labour MP Keith Vaz took up an old mantle in publicly calling for more scrutiny of game violence -- Vaz had been instrumental in the banning of Rockstar's Manhunt and Bully from the region. Recently, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick indicated his company would need economic incentives in order to invest in the region, even as his company joined UK trade body TIGA just a day before.

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