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
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
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.