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Saving the UK Games Industry

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the eye-of-the-tiga dept.

Businesses 128

arcticstoat writes "Following the cancellation of games tax relief in the 2010 UK budget, the UK games industry is now feeling increasingly threatened by Canada, France and some US states that offer tax relief to their games businesses. What's more, it looks as though the R&D tax credits scheme offered up by UK Chancellor George Osborne in last week's budget speech is nowhere near enough to enable UK-based games studios to compete internationally. 'In terms of magnitude, games tax relief would be much more generous,' says Dr. Richard Wilson, CEO of the UK games industry's trade association TIGA, in this in-depth interview about the need for games tax relief in the UK. 'The proposals we've been campaigning for would allow games companies to basically put in a claim for a reduction in corporation tax of between 20-30 per cent on given projects. The R&D tax credits are much smaller in magnitude – we're talking somewhere around 4-5 per cent.' Is this enough to enable UK game studios to compete with the likes of Canada? 'Good grief, no,' says Wilson, 'absolutely not.'"

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Frosty PISS. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35663076)

The UK can suck my left nut.

Re:Frosty PISS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35664730)

No thanks, not interested.

The bureaucracy is insane! (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663130)

Do you get tax relief if you can hold your breath for five minutes? You know, some kind of cap 'n trade thing. And no farting..

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35663148)

Rather than look to government for relief they should rethink their software development methods to reduce the cost of bringing new games to market. Using Microsoft Visual Studio and C# I can easily target my projects at Xbox, Win 7 mobile and PC with minimal code changes.

A free version of Visual Studio is available for those that want to hone their skills and take part in this exciting new revolution in software development. Join in today!

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35663194)

Buy your copy of Microsoft Visual Studio(TM) within 15 minutes of this advertisement and receive your lock-in voucher completely free of charge!

* Terms and Conditions apply

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663986)

Visual Studio is mostly a free download these days...you lock-in doesn't cost a penny.

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35664050)

Uh no, licenses above the bare-bones Express version cost thousands of pounds. Besides, the lock-in itself costs dearly in the big scheme of things.

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664386)

Well yes, that's why people buy the Intel compiler.

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664388)

The really great thing is that the free version has less lock-in than the expensive ones. If you're just coding portable C++ you should look into it - the VC++ compiler and IDE are about as good as it gets on any platform.

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35664616)

What on earth are you talking about? Choosing to develop on any platform is pretty much lock-in to that platform. Even with things like the so-called "write once, run anywhere" java, if you're developing modern games, you're going to have to program quite close the metal at some point, and that's where you'll have to develop highly specific code for the highly specific platform that you're on. And that reduces your ability to "move your code around" easily, and there's your "lock-in".

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (-1, Offtopic)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663332)

FUCK OFF FUCKOFFFUCKOFF!!!!!!

FUCK OFF!

=================
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Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663400)

It sounds like the thing that's making the development so expensive is government involvement (ie: taxes). It's not like the RIAA, or Wall Street, where they're looking for government money - they're essentially asking for relief from government.

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663520)

- they're essentially asking for relief from government.

The sad thing is that tax relief for games development would only likely delay the inevitable outsourcing to India or China.

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663578)

I can understand the reason that games companies want tax breaks in the UK. If other countries are offering those kind of incentives, it makes setting up or remaining profitable in the UK more difficult. If I was a UK developement studio I'd be asking for the same thing.

Even given the above, I doubt this is something the government should do. The UK is planning to decrease its structural deficit over the next few years. If were going to fund tax breaks, why do it for games developement and not pharma, military hardware, automotives, medical equipment etc? People argue for their own interests (news at 11), the point of a democratic republic is that representatives of the people, who have the time and ability, to look at the bigger picture decide what is really important.

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1)

dadioflex (854298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663694)

Even given the above, I doubt this is something the government should do. The UK is planning to decrease its structural deficit over the next few years. If were going to fund tax breaks, why do it for games developement and not pharma, military hardware, automotives, medical equipment etc? People argue for their own interests (news at 11), the point of a democratic republic is that representatives of the people, who have the time and ability, to look at the bigger picture decide what is really important.

Oh, lots of points. Firstly the UK is still a contender in the games industry, and the games industry has potential for growth that few other industries offer and the jobs in it tend to be the knowledge-based, high value ones the govt favours. The availability of jobs, however, is extremely limited and, as we have seen, the profits can easily be off-shored.

There's very little incentive to the government to give the games industry a break because, and now we're getting to your second point, all those other industries - pharma, military, medical etc - have figured out how to minimize their tax bill without screaming for tax breaks and they did it the old fashioned way by lobbying in private.

In the current economic climate it doesn't really make much sense as a profitable industry to be asking to pay less tax when other businesses are shedding jobs like Jack Russell hair and if the coalition had given them attractive tax breaks the opposition would have crucified the govt over it at a time when senior police are being let go because of cuts. It shows how disorganized and still wet behind the ears the UK games industry is. If they want to be taken seriously they need to get organized.

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664148)

UK games companies pay less tax now than they did before, since the rate of corporation tax has been cut across the board.

Specific exemptions are a bureaucratic nightmare and an avenue for abuse. For once the government got it right.

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664150)

The UK's a republic now?!

Yes, really (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664482)

Although it calls itself a "constitutional monarchy", it was established during the 1688 revolution that Parliament can remove the monarch (essentially what happened - James was removed and William of Orange invited to take the job.) So yes, we are de jure and de facto a Republic whose President gets the job notionally for life and has a funny hat. The difference between us and the US is that they complain if the President does nothing, and we complain if a member of the Royal Family tries to do anything other than wave gracefully.

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35663560)

Any market innovations are equally accessible to all traders, from the UK or elsewhere. I myself here in the US use VS for game development for c# using the directX managed runtime environment called XNA. So any innovation will in general be matched by competitors(around some normal curve of course). So any significant market failure in the UK suggests that other variables are hindering the gaming industry's success there. My speculation is this:

the British government owns more of the British peoples economy which is supposedly capitalist than the Chinese government owns of the Chinese peoples economy which is supposedly still communist. That degree of central control over the daily actions of millions of people cannot be ignored and I would argue that should be the first place to look, since it is such a huge influence. Those mandatory controls, both favoring and hindering this industry should be considered against the trillions of dynamic human actions that determine what businesses a society wants. One should ask how well static dictates can direct such complicated yet purpose driven systems of human interaction.

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (2)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663686)

Using Microsoft Visual Studio and C# I can easily target my projects at Xbox, Win 7 mobile and PC with minimal code changes.

Er, wouldn't that mean a total rewrite of the engine and all the libraries it uses when you need to target other consoles, the Mac, Android, iOs, etc?

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664220)

yes, but who targets them nowadays?

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35664652)

Yes, but it's exactly the same the other way around, too.
Develop for Android (for example) and you're going to have to re-write for iOS, or vice-versa.
The bottom line is that choosing any platform is lock-in to a lesser or greater extent.

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35663906)

Sure, but for any decent game you need C++ and platform specific code to get the speed and memory performance out of it.

If you want to do it in C# you'll need a couple more gig of ram and a few more processors with larger L1 caches. (bigger memory footprint exe means less gets into your cache). Obviously this wouldn't work for anything other than Microsoft devices, so no cross platform engine either.

For small "simple" games you may get away with it, for instance Angry Birds type game.

Halo or of the like, nope.

*I used to work on programming games consoles for a living (Xbox/360/PS2/PS3/N64 etc)

Re:The bureaucracy is insane! (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663940)

Don't you think these big gaming studios already try to optimize their development? And probably with methods that are far more effective than "let's save $500 on our compiler". As I understand it, most money spend in the gaming business is on the same traditional costs as non-gaming business; personel and marketing. Besides, no matter how much you improve your workflow, it's still going to be less profitable than doing the exact same thing in a country with tax benefits (assuming wages are equal).

Managing Decline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35663136)

You can tell when British management fully sign up to the establishment. They start lecturing and demanding corporate welfare. It's all part of the innovate, expand, manage decline cycle these deadbeats pursue. Not that a gutless bag of shit like Dick Wilson who got the Tory government he wanted gives a flying fuck for everyone at the bottom who's carrying the burden of job losses, tax cuts, and welfare cuts.

Go to hell you cunt. There's people out there with more brains and fuck all in the bank who are producing the games that will put your skinny shiny ass out of business.

They should just let Lord British take control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35663184)

Seriously, he would rule with an iron fist, but he would get results.

What do you mean he's actually a Texan?

I love the way the corps play us off one another.. (2, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663210)

e.g., 'You better give us tax breaks, or we won't give you jobs, hahahahaha'. This is why I'm a socialist in favor of strong central gov'ts. No matter how bad the gov't gets, there's always a tiny, tiny chance they'll turn out OK. Corporations are intrinsically jerks.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663284)

As long as free trade is god governments are only able to dick around in the margins, especially in countries which have basically no comparative advantage and have been running trade deficits for decades. Nearly the entire first world is living on the dole.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (1)

Guillermito (187510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663342)

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of a strong central government getting bad is China's "cultural revolution". If you don't mind a couple of million dead people, I guess, yes, you're right.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35664350)

It should be obvious without having to be said that a fair democratic process is a needed. You don't want to hand over lots of power first and only afterwards try to control it.

Do note that word "fair" too, because it's important. Corrupt semi-democracies need not apply.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#35665438)

Corrupt semi-democracies need not apply.

We always apply, bitch.
--L&K,
USG

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (3, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663554)

e.g., 'You better give us tax breaks, or we won't give you jobs, hahahahaha'. This is why I'm a socialist in favor of strong central gov'ts. No matter how bad the gov't gets, there's always a tiny, tiny chance they'll turn out OK. Corporations are intrinsically jerks.

Let's suppose you then set up a strong central government with socialist policies. And then some other country that you do not control decides to offer a marginally better deal for businesses that locate in their jurisdiction. One would hope that you don't claim the right to force that other country to adopt your sort of policy or to force the company not to do business with them. The worst you can do is forbid them from importing their game they made elsewhere into your country, giving you the triple whammy of pissing of your citizens, denying you sales tax revenue and then having to deal with the porous nature of the internet. See, e.g. the US online gambling ban (and obvious corollary to anything that can be distributed digitally).

Socialism or central control doesn't solve your problem here at all unless you are really talking about worldwide socialism and one-world-government, about which the less said the better.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (1)

Xeranar (2029624) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663586)

This is where IP businesses suffer in the ideology of socialism but really the argument that people of talent that make software are trying to outsource themselves over what are small margins is inane. What right does an English citizen who wants to make video games have to move to the US or Canada? I'm not denying them the right to move or pay taxes in my preferred locality but in effect the argument is shifted onto the government to be held hostage by corporations when it should be on the corporations to deal with their locality and accept that taxation is part of the system. Then again I am openly in favor of every country charging corporate taxes on profits made within their borders so we can break the back of this poorly done blackmail game we suffer through as citizens. For the record, if a UK game company moved to the US over taxation the best answer would be to simply charge them an additional surcharge to place their games on the shelves. In essence it would be passed onto the citizens of your own country but it would be a perfect way to execute protectionism which is definitively different from socialism.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (3, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663670)

What right does an English citizen who wants to make video games have to move to the US or Canada?

The absolute right. England is not a prison, you can't hold people against their will.

I'm not denying them the right to move or pay taxes in my preferred locality but in effect the argument is shifted onto the government to be held hostage by corporations when it should be on the corporations to deal with their locality and accept that taxation is part of the system.

I don't see any argument being shifted by anyone. A company is free to set up wherever they please. England cannot force an American company to set up shop in London, never could, never will. You are arguing about what has always been the case -- that companies will chose to do business in friendly jurisdictions and that the citizens of those jurisdictions have the right to set those policies in accordance with their preferences.

The contrary position -- that one national government can coerce a corporation headquartered elsewhere -- is internally unworkable in the case of >2 governments anyway.

For the record, if a UK game company moved to the US over taxation the best answer would be to simply charge them an additional surcharge to place their games on the shelves.

Leaving aside that it is totally illegal under existing law to charge different import taxes to different companies importing the same good, the UK isn't a large enough market that this would make a difference.

In essence it would be passed onto the citizens of your own country but it would be a perfect way to execute protectionism which is definitively different from socialism.

Given the elasticity of videogame purchases, the cost of a high tax is born by the supplier not the consumer.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (1)

nhaehnle (1844580) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664416)

I'm not denying them the right to move or pay taxes in my preferred locality but in effect the argument is shifted onto the government to be held hostage by corporations when it should be on the corporations to deal with their locality and accept that taxation is part of the system.

I don't see any argument being shifted by anyone. A company is free to set up wherever they please. England cannot force an American company to set up shop in London, never could, never will. You are arguing about what has always been the case -- that companies will chose to do business in friendly jurisdictions and that the citizens of those jurisdictions have the right to set those policies in accordance with their preferences.

The contrary position -- that one national government can coerce a corporation headquartered elsewhere -- is internally unworkable in the case of >2 governments anyway.

Of course, you are missing the point that under the current system, the point of corporations is to make profits for their owners. If a corporation and its owners currently exist in the UK and are paying UK taxes, then it is totally feasible to set up a system of taxation and tariffs that prevent this ownership from moving around, or eliminates the benefits of moving it around. Just like the US government requires its citizens to pay income taxes for income from their employment, a government could easily require its citizens to pay income taxes/capital gains taxes on assets they are holding around the world.

This would not prevent founders from changing citizenship and then creating new corporations abroad, but that is not a very credible threat anyway - people don't change their citizenship on a whim. However, it would effectively stop domestically owned corporations from evading taxes by moving abroad. They could still move their jobs abroad, but hey: if they do that, and by doing so increase the taxes they pay domestically, then this could even become a win-win situation for society as a whole, because other, less easily offshored jobs could be created.

Conceptually, it is really not that difficult to set up a tax system in which there is no real threat of corporations moving abroad due to taxation (the devil's in the details of course). The problem is a political one. Nobody in power really wants to set up such a system because of vested interests.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (2)

SunTzuWarmaster (930093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664816)

Of course, you are missing the point that under the current system, the point of corporations is to make profits for their owners. If a corporation and its owners currently exist in the UK and are paying UK taxes, then it is totally feasible to set up a system of taxation and tariffs that prevent this ownership from moving around, or eliminates the benefits of moving it around. Just like the US government requires its citizens to pay income taxes for income from their employment, a government could easily require its citizens to pay income taxes/capital gains taxes on assets they are holding around the world.

So let's say that I, as an American, buy a rental property in the UK. You state that I should pay both UK taxes on the income (income made in the country is taxed by that company), and then US taxes on the income? And you liken this to an income tax? Yea... that is such a crazy-bad deal that I would switch citizenship.

I'm sorry, I normally favor the UK in this system, but if you move your company overseas, then it is taxed overseas.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35665142)

Not saying you should. Saying that the governments have that power.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35664502)

What right does an English citizen who wants to make video games have to move to the US or Canada?

The absolute right. England is not a prison, you can't hold people against their will.

There's two sides to emigration. I think he's talking about the other one.

The H1B quota is taken up by dodgy bodyshops bringing Indians in.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35665128)

What right does an English citizen who wants to make video games have to move to the US or Canada?

The absolute right. England is not a prison, you can't hold people against their will.

The US and Canada have a say, too. I doubt I would be allowed by the US or Canada to move there to work (unless I won the green card lottery) so no, I don't have the right.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35665296)

There are a ridiculous number of british people in california or vancouver writing games who went over in the 1990s before the immigration system got 0wned. Neil Young (EALA then ngmoco) and Dave Perry (Shiny) are two of the more high profile.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35667666)

I'm actually reminded of an Asimov story, where there was this world where Sex was open anywhere, anytime, anyplace. No restrictions.

Eventually all the worlds around it decided to stop it because they were being drained by the tourism all going there.

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663966)

One the one hand you have corporations that will do everything to push the boundaries of law in order to gain power.
On the other hand you have governments that can just change laws in order to gain power.
I'm reminded of something with "absolute power"...

Re:I love the way the corps play us off one anothe (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35665226)

corporation - "take less money from us and we'll give you jobs"

government - "give us more of your money and we'll give you jobs"

Umm... sounds like the corporations wins here as the lesser of two evils :P

Good God What Hubris! (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663338)

The UK is enacting severe austerity measures on its citizens and companies that develop *games* are whining about not getting large enough tax breaks? Talk about being out of touch, this isn't "let them eat cake" its "how come we aren't getting enough cake?". Meanwhile people are having their bread portions slashed.

Re:Good God What Hubris! (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663370)

Must...resist...obvious...overused...joke...

Re:Good God What Hubris! (2)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663406)

No joke is ever overused. Go ahead and let it rip!

Re:Good God What Hubris! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35663424)

letting it rip is a lie

Re:Good God What Hubris! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35665692)

Your post is a lie.

Re:Good God What Hubris! (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663774)

The point is, this is an investment. Invest a pound in the games industry and you get more than that back in tax revenue.

At least that's the claim.

Re:Good God What Hubris! (2)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664460)

It depends how much it costs you to give that industry the breaks it's asking for. If it costs a lot to set up a different taxation mechanism for that business but the returns are low (because the industry employs few people, or because it is mobile enough that someone else can offer better tax breaks and they can relocate in months) then you might not see a return on that investment. Worse, you risk creating a loophole that other businesses can abuse to avoid taxation. I do think the government should be doing everything to encourage the UK gaming industry - it's got a great pedigree and it can potentially be great for the country - but it's not a black and white situation at all.

Re:Good God What Hubris! (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664106)

TBH, I say good luck to them. The austerity measures in the UK are largely unnecessary and should be resisted in every way possible.

The chancellor has a stack of money under his bed (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664574)

The austerity measures in the UK are largely unnecessary and should be resisted in every way possible.

Ain't that the truth. If only the nimby environmentalist anarcho-luddites would allow us to farm unicorns genetically modified to shit gold we could all be as rich as Croesus.

Re:Good God What Hubris! (2)

leathered (780018) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664590)

Right on comrade, we should carry on borrowing and spending and let the next generation pay for it all.

Re:Good God What Hubris! (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664884)

You're kidding yourself if you think western governments are going to pay even a fraction of their debt back. It's all just paper. You'd think the chinese would've learned a thing or two from how we treated the native americans, or the africans for that matter. Face facts: the west is never going to pay, it can't, and if the whole economy comes crashing down around us (it doesn't have to, the two sides could just shred the paper) we'll have an old-fashioned world war on our hands. Austerity is bullshit, the owner class pushing the middle class back into poverty with a hopeless cause as an excuse.

Re:Good God What Hubris! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35666106)

what's interesting to me is not that you're wrong but how you end up with this perspective - it's not a failure of education i suspect but more a triumph of the media.

the next time you switch on the mainstream news then have a think about what it is that makes you want to be lied to...? then go read some freud if you really 'would like to know more'

Re:Good God What Hubris! (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35665672)

Our previous government built a bloated public sector that employs 1/3rd of the UK's working population off the back of massive tax income from financial services.

That massive tax income from financial services is no longer so massive and the massive decline in tax revenue has not been able to be picked up by any other industry sector, thus the public sector is no longer affordable in it's current overly bloated state.

You have a very fucking weird definition of "unnecessary", there is not a cats chance in hell of us being able to sustainably afford public sector and benefits at the size it's at. Worse, the public sector unions are still attacking bankers wages in bonuses even now, seemingly oblivious to the fact that without bankers getting such disproportionately high pay (and hence providing so much tax) in the first place we could never have afforded the bloated public sector those unions serve to represent in the first place.

Seriously, fuck off with the mindless tosh, the cuts are only unnecessary if you're one of those idiots who thinks you can keep taking new loans to pay for existing debts in perpetuity and somehow ignore the growing interest rate burden that comes with it.

Re:Good God What Hubris! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35666894)

wow, you've got cool-aid coming out of your nostrils son - maybe you should go easy...?

from the bitterness in your post i suspect that you're suffering from the impact of cuts already; i can only hope that your hardship increases a great deal over the coming years!

Re:Good God What Hubris! (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35665512)

Well it wouldn't be so bad, but:

'The proposals we've been campaigning for would allow games companies to basically put in a claim for a reduction in corporation tax of between 20-30 per cent on given projects. The R&D tax credits are much smaller in magnitude â" we're talking somewhere around 4-5 per cent.'

20 - 30 percent? Corporation tax in the UK is now only 26% anyway, which is already less than almost the entirety of each of the countries listed in the summary.

Sure our government cancelled games industry specific tax breaks, but they gave corporations overall a tax break of 2% in last week's budget.

It sounds like they basically want to pay no tax at all. I'm sorry but what's the point in us having them here in the first place then if they don't contribute anything much back to society?

What games? (1, Insightful)

stumblingblock (409645) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663518)

marbles? ping-pong? hide-and-go-seek? dodgeball? Are these games given tax relief?

Re:What games? (3, Informative)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663556)

Re:What games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35663656)

So are you saying that, today and in the near future, the UK taxpayers should sponsor (by tax reliefs) a Japanese corporation [wikipedia.org] .
I'm not against donating for some Fukushima relief funds ... just saying you should choose better next time the subject of your examples.

Re:What games? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664476)

Not at all - most countries try and offer incentives to foreign companies to produce their goods on home soil. We've done it for years with the car industry (there's been a heavy Japanese manufacturer presence in the UK in the past). Even though it means some money is leaving the country (you'd always obviously prefer that they were your own homegrown companies but there's not always homegrown competition), it still creates jobs and stimulates spending.

Re:What games? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35664026)

One studio that, as a different AC pointed out, was bought out by Square Enix, a Japanese corporation.

What my fellow AC neglected to point out is that Eidos only has a single studio left in the UK. Oh, and of those games you list, only Tomb Raider and Timesplitters are British.

The rest are:

Hitman - Denmark (IO Interactive)
Commandos - Spain (Pyro Studios)
Deux Ex - US (Ion Storm)
Legacy of Kain - Canada (Silicon Knights) / US (Crystal Dynamics)
Thief - US (Ion Storm)
Fear Effect - US (Kronos Digital Entertainment)

Oh, and that reminds me:
Tomb Raider, since 2006 - US (Crystal Dynamics)

So... yeah.

Re:What games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35665234)

Considering what they've done to Thief and Deus Ex, I'd be okay with them not making any more games.

Re:What games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35664596)

Eer, you are mixing developer studio with publisher. Commandos was developed in Spain by Pyro Studios, Hitman in Denmark by IO Interactive, and Deus Ex by that Game Designer God Warren Spector as part of Ion Storm in USA. From that list, in fact the only ones developed in UK where the Tomb Raider series (until it was moved to a US developer) and Timesplitters.

Re:What games? (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 3 years ago | (#35665042)

Judging by the photos of Team17's car park, all I can say is good. They obviously get paid well, so there is no need for government handouts.

Re:What games? (1)

pstils (928424) | more than 3 years ago | (#35666324)

not to mention the GTA series

Re:What games? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35664252)

Never heard of the GTA series, or Red Dead Redemption then?

Re:What games? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#35667172)

Or the total war series (creative assembly). Or a whole lot of the Lego games ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveller's_Tales)

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35663546)

Nobody should get any kind of tax relief anywhere, whatever they're doing. Everybody should have to pay.

The what now? (1)

0m3gaMan (745008) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663626)

Didn't know there was one. Cool.

Re:The what now? (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664952)

Didn't know there was one. Cool.

Sad. Growing up in the nineties in europe the UK was a games industry powerhouse with companies like Psygnosis [wikipedia.org] (Lemmings, Shadow Of The Beast), Bullfrog [wikipedia.org] (Populous, Syndicate, Theme park), Acornsoft [wikipedia.org] (Elite), etc, etc. It seemed like all the cool games in the world were coming out of the UK.

Re:The what now? (1)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35665266)

You forgot Llamasoft.

Mart

Re:The what now? (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35665578)

Revenge of the mutant camels was absolutely insane, it must've warped my young mind :-) Minter's in a category all his own and he's still at it after all these years, bless him.

Re:The what now? (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35666188)

And Psygnosis is dead(effectively). And you didn't even show their best/most well-known games of the 90s(GPolice, Colony Wars, and the best racing game ever Wipeout XL). Very sad. One day I hope someone competent resurrects some of their great franchises.

DMA Design(GTA) was also out of UK

Re:The what now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35666048)

-1 retarded

Back to class, son.

It's so hard to cut speading... (3, Insightful)

johncandale (1430587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663632)

It's so hard to cut spending because no matter what program you cut, some group and some trade association or citizen group has a vested interest in it. I say good job UK. It's not like video games is a infant industry that needs support. All government funds can do is muck up efficiency. Good games will do well in the UK and great games will get distribution internationally and in the long term, the industry will be healthier and the government will have one less thing sucking at it's teat. Support from the government will only lead to more and more need for support after the first hurrah's, and the industry slowly slides worse and worse. For reference, see every industry ever with government support over the last 50 years

Re:It's so hard to cut speading... (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664498)

It's nothing to do with efficiency. A company in the West whose primary (pretty much their only) ongoing overhead is never going to compete with one in a developing country, no matter how efficient you make it. Even paying your entire staff minimum wage will make your product ridiculously expensive. Giving tax relief won't necessarily ease the pain much, but the bigger issue is that the government needs to demonstrate that it's behind the industry in order that potential future employees gain the skills necessary to keep the industry in the country. If people think developing games in the UK is a dead end, they'll look for other opportunities and eventually the talent pool will dry up and you're left to compete solely on price.

Re:It's so hard to cut speading... (1)

johncandale (1430587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664684)

What kind of nonsense is that? If you can't complete in a field like video games, you suck. There is plenty of people in 1st world countries that are entering the market for the first time all the time. This is about ownership. And when they get big enough they can still export production overseas if they want. You are creating a product with a relatively small team. And it's a one shoot item. It's not like a factory where you have 10,000s employees making shoes 24/7 365. This is what you should be good at! It's making culture. You haven't been priced out of this market. Adding more government cuts will only add bloat to your companies.

Re:It's so hard to cut speading... (2)

jabjoe (1042100) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664504)

Or look at Germany and it's relationship with industry and it undermines your point.
https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Rhine_Capitalism [wikimedia.org]
If we apply your thinking to the banks we let them burn and us with them.

Don't everyone thinks the cuts should being being done as they are:
http://falseeconomy.org.uk/ [falseeconomy.org.uk]

Re:It's so hard to cut speading... (1)

johncandale (1430587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664646)

I did say over 50 years. You are only looking at the bump before the next decline.

and yes we should have let the banks burn. btw, Have you heard they are out of money again? And no we don't 'go with them' because ~98 percent of the popultion has less then 100,000 in the bank and it's insured and only a small percent of the population would be effected. On the other hand here you have trillions of middle class wealth evaporated while the banks trudge on. If you had let the banks get close to collapse you would have cut some of the fat out of the system, and let a real recovery start. Now the banks are bigger then ever, the wealth gap is highest in over 70 years.

Re:It's so hard to cut speading... (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35665038)

And no we don't 'go with them' because ~98 percent of the popultion has less then 100,000 in the bank and it's insured and only a small percent of the population would be effected.

Insured ... by the banks, backed with stocks which would tank if the economy failed. I'm not saying we shouldn't have let the banks fail but the "insurance" on your money would be worth fuck all if they did.

Re:It's so hard to cut speading... (1)

jabjoe (1042100) | more than 3 years ago | (#35665406)

I think the Rhineland model is a better bet. After it's 50 years old, which isn't long, will you just increase the number of years? I agree with Karl Marx on "capitalism will destroy itself", only I don't think it's a good thing and can be, and is, prevented by regulation. We can also use regulation to align outcomes we want with the profit motive.

The gap was big and growing before the credit crunch. A good website on this and the affects of a unequal society is: http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/ [equalitytrust.org.uk]

all in good time... (1)

msavory (1734428) | more than 3 years ago | (#35663728)

..wait until they have a few of their cronies are UK games industry leaders and I'm sure we'll see tax breaks.

Deeper problem (1)

jabjoe (1042100) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664248)

There was a time where artists and programmers learnt in their bedroom. This was great because when they came into industry, it didn't take much to get them up to scratch as they had been doing it at home, just with less tools and no access to others. Now, in the game company I work at, we struggle to get people who know what we need.

I wonder how much of the recruitment problem is noise to signal ratio because of:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGar7KC6Wiw [youtube.com]

These kids go and do "games" courses, but aren't being taught what they need, because really, they don't want to know and the course is about bums on seats to make the education stats look good. I was on a "VR" course that was similar, but I dropped out and went into industry when our "professional 3D artist" didn't know what was skinning or IK and seamed to make everything out of spheres, and our programmers didn't know anything about real-time 3D. That was 10 years ago, not sure it's got better since.

I also wonder how much of the problem is no one learning "roll in the mud" C/C++ that is required. Those learning at uni, and even at home, seem to be learning only managed languages, so don't really understand computers. They don't get memory, data and instructions, only objects and garbage collection. Even if you are going to use someone else's engine, that still puts you at a disadvantage. Though of course, as long as the tech is "good enough" it starts becoming about game play and artwork....

I also wonder if this is limited to the game industry after last week's link to:
http://blog.expensify.com/2011/03/25/ceo-friday-why-we-dont-hire-net-programmers/ [expensify.com]

I think this kind of thing makes people angry because they know, deep down, there is at least an element of truth to it, but don't want to take the ivory tower blinkers off and see. Same kind of people who shout that programmers should do GUIs for everything, and there should be no CLI. Tough. For real time, you need to know what the computer is doing, even if you are using a virtual machine on top (in which case, you need to know what that is doing too, so it's actually making things more complex for you). For advanced computer use, you need to learn the CLI.

Re:Deeper problem (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35666680)

There was a time where artists and programmers learnt in their bedroom.

This time was before 1985, when the NES came out and locked-down consoles started to take over from computers.

but I dropped out and went into industry when our "professional 3D artist" didn't know what was skinning or IK and seamed to make everything out of spheres

This project wasn't Ballz [wikipedia.org] , was it? Oh wait, that was several years before "10 years ago".

I also wonder how much of the problem is no one learning "roll in the mud" C/C++ that is required. Those learning at uni, and even at home, seem to be learning only managed languages

Which as I understand it is perfectly fine for programming games on BlackBerry (Java ME), Android (Dalvik), Windows Phone 7 (.NET+XNA), or Xbox 360 (.NET+XNA). How much knowledge of what's running under the hood is needed to make a competent logic tier (e.g. physics and AI) for a video game on a managed platform? Must one know assembly language first?

Re:Deeper problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35667548)

I also wonder how much of the problem is no one learning "roll in the mud" C/C++ that is required. Those learning at uni, and even at home, seem to be learning only managed languages, so don't really understand computers. They don't get memory, data and instructions, only objects and garbage collection. Even if you are going to use someone else's engine, that still puts you at a disadvantage. Though of course, as long as the tech is "good enough" it starts becoming about game play and artwork....
 

Oh its much much worse then that. I recently talked to someone who is taking a degree in computer gaming, and I asked some basic questions, well basic to me.

Are you learning about computer languages and how they're constructed?

-No, we learn Flash and C#, we don't need to know about anything else.

Are you learning about compiler construction?

-No

Are you learning about machine architecture?

-No

Are you learning about distributed systems and managing multiple thread?

-No why do we need that?

Do you know about SQL and databases?

-Why do we need that? We're making games not applications.

I've been working in the game industry for 4 years now (other industries for longer). Most of my code is done in C/C++. I have to deal with threading issues, and how to architect things to allow for it. I come across compiler bugs all the time whenever we do something that pushes the edge. One of the first few steps I do when debugging is switching to the assembly, to trace down exactly what the CPU is doing. None of that is covered by the game degrees.

When I graduated (oh so many years ago it seems), I had electives on Databases, Languages, Graphics, AI, and Machine Architecture. To graduate you needed to take most of them. All of them I see are vital if you want to program games, but looking at the degree options now most of these are now graduate level courses. Because no-one 'needs' to know them. Instead the degrees seem to be about 'this is C#, this is flash, oh look how you can make something pretty and bouncy on the screen'.

If you want to be in the game industry, as a programmer, you should realize a degree in game design will get you laughed at by most of the seasoned (jaded) people who had to solve problems originating from the bare metal, tools, etc. About a year ago one of my coworkers had a good laugh in front of a lot of students are a local university. When asked 'why do you program in C++ when its so out dated aren't you switching to C# or something modern?' This university didn't even offer a gaming degree these were computer science and computer engineering students. They've only heard of C/C++ and may have been able to recognize it but they've never dealt with it.

I see it as job security personally. If the schools aren't turning out people who can do my job then I don't have to worry about it. I don't see C/C++ going away. Especially when you are trying to get every last ounce of horsepower out of a CPU, every last byte out of a MB of ram, and drop every ms of latency you can. Managed languages are great for simple things, and for some complex thing. But if you treat the system as a black box, don't be surprised when it opens to reveal a monster.

What? (3, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664554)

I'm British. I pay British taxes. My short response to this revelation that we don't subsidise the game industry from public funds any more is:

"Fucking good!"

My full response is:

"What the hell? We PAY people from public funds to write computer games just so we can compete with other country's computer games?"

Of all the myriad taxes, charges, jobs, cuts and everything else going on, this is seriously making the whole UK games industry look like a bunch of whiners.

How about this - you're running a business. It produces a product. That product is FAR from essential. In fact, it's as much luxury as is conceivably possible to the ordinary man. You build it, sell it, make a profit, pay your staff. Like every other business in the world.

And I'm assuming these tax breaks don't even run to business software, or healthcare software, or educational software, or the myriad other types of software which could conceivably be useful? No, just games.

Seriously. You're making yourselves look like arses, in public, in times of austerity - people were smashing up London the other day because the government has made cuts, what do you think they'd do if they thought for a second their tax was going to help write computer video games?

I'm not one to blame everyone on the recession and yell about how bad people have it but this is just ridiculous. Get off your arse and make a product that sells. Yeah, you might conceivably add a job or two if you were giving huge tax breaks by the government, but so would any other industry.

Re:What? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664620)

"What the hell? We PAY people from public funds to write computer games just so we can compete with other country's computer games?"

Umm, no. We don't.

Yes, we do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35664676)

The normal state of affairs would be that a company would pay a certain percentage of Corporation Tax. In giving the industry tax relief, we're effectively handing them back a load of money that would otherwise have gone into the Treasury.

That said, George Osborne has apparently decided that no matter how much tax receipts come in over estimate, he's still not going to pull back on austerity measures (which, incidentally, I don't oppose entirely but he is going much too far, too fast, and the cuts have barely hit yet). I'd rather we supported successful industries in the UK, at least until such time as we've rebalanced our economy onto a more sustainable (ie. not so banking-dependent) footing.

Re:Yes, we do (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664766)

The normal state of affairs would be that a company would pay a certain percentage of Corporation Tax. In giving the industry tax relief, we're effectively handing them back a load of money that would otherwise have gone into the Treasury.

Nope. We are (or were) taking a little bit less from them than we would otherwise have done. But the net flow is still towards the treasury.

And since corporation tax has been reduced, we're taking a little bit less from all companies.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35665348)

I wish I had some mod points!

Re:What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35665456)

You've totally missed the point.

The games industry brings in more tax revenue than the film and movie industries combined. Healthcare software doesn't bring in reems of cash to our economy. Not to mention we develop technology that directly feeds back into educational, healthcare, simulation and business software. Canada has shown that for every $1 you put in you get $5 back. We wouldn't need any cuts if the government was investing in growth and not pushing through idealogical cuts.

Our dev base is shrinking because everyone is leaving for Canada for fancy government subsidised "golden handshakes" or going into the financial services(who have been given tax breaks in this country).

The games industry is key to the governments plans for a "knowledge based economy". The government has bailed out many smaller or loss making industries, so maybe you should be directing your bile at them?

Re:What? (1)

jabjoe (1042100) | more than 3 years ago | (#35666198)

What? Grow ourselves out of the mess? Government debt not like personal debt? What madness. No, we need to cut to the bone because that has such a long history of working......

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35665458)

No worries, the companies will survive, they'll just offshore development and the existing employees will be queuing for their dole instead of paying taxes on their decent income. Now how much tax money is being used?

Re:What? (1)

jimwormold (1451913) | more than 3 years ago | (#35665960)

'...what do you think they'd do if they thought for a second their tax was going to help write computer video games?'

I think they would be angry.

Let's hope they don't think that as it would be incorrect.

They are not receiving public money, they are (were) just not being taxed on all their earnings. There's a difference here which you may have missed.

Re:What? (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#35667306)

I'm in canada. We're happy to take all those jobs. Because we give back 40% of the salary paid to game developers here in ontario. If you have payroll over 1 million dollars you can get that money faster, if not, you have to wait until the end of the project.

The UK is stuck between a rock and hard place on this one. A desperate need for revenue from corporate taxes, balanced by a desperate need for income taxes, and being no where near a competitive labour market for either of those.

Ideally, in an age of austerity, no one would be offering 40% tax breaks to any industry. But here in canada, and ontario in particular, we're trying to build a games industry. So we're offering huge tax incentives to get people to either move here, or startup here. Either the UK can try and claim unfair trade and subsidy (probably legitimately), and demand places with low taxes on game developers stop doing that, which would take years and might fail. Or you can match them, and keep what you can of income taxes and so on.

A 5 or 10% difference probably isn't enough to persuade someone to move. But 40%, which is more or less what they'd get in Ontario or Quebec is pretty hard to refuse.

Digital Britain to push “culturally British& (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#35664762)

HEY HEY 16K, What Does That Get You Today, Thursday (NNGadget) — As well as attempting to give the major record and television companies whatever they want until the end of time, Lord Carter's Digital Britain report includes tax breaks for "culturally British" computer game development [newstechnica.com] .

Planned games include Lard Warrior (“the goal is to sit playing a game. The graphics are truly horrifying and needed us to go to 3.5-dimensional to fit the player's avatar on the screen. Rated 18+ for explicit neck beards"), CCTV Panopticon (“take pictures of the CCTV cameras in your high street until arrested under the Terrorism Act for having your own camera in public, defeat final boss with Doctorow Attack"), Bottled Tan Snorter (“get into celebrity magazines and shag footballers, lose points for any sign of intelligence, insufficient nipple slips or words of two syllables") and Cynical Apathist (“write outraged blog posts and comments with amusing satires of events of the day while working a job directly keeping the hideous machinery alive and running, avoid removal by the Guardian moderator"). A committee will also form a group to do a study concerning a team to write a ZX Spectrum emulator for the iPhone, with a cassette interface emulator that sends Apple 99p every time you get an "R: Tape Loading Error."

The games industry has warned in the past that developers are being lured away to other countries by the prospect of being paid more than shit. Conservative Shadow Arts Minister Ed Vaizey has leapt upon the opportunity, with promises of incentives for talented developers to stay in Britain and not be lured away by better pay in America. "We'll keep their passports from them until they reach 'Achievement Unlocked.'"

Having finally released Digital Britain, Lord Carter has resigned from the government and is returning to private industry. "Of course, Digital Britain remains a completely objective assessment of the way forward for the nation in the twenty-first century, and should in no way be thought of as my CV for a series of lucrative consultancies with the large media companies I've just given everything they've ever asked for. And a pony."

Dr. Richard Wilson was also reporting as saying... (1)

Dusty101 (765661) | more than 3 years ago | (#35666444)

"I don't believe it!"

This is more about diversity than anything else. (1)

awjr (1248008) | more than 3 years ago | (#35667514)

The real problem here is that there are game houses out there that are doing phenomenally well, while others are failing. A lot of this has to do with the business models they have adopted. Many of the 'failing' ones are very vertical. They contract develop games. This works well in a buoyant market, but during a recession, this can cause work to dry up.

The more successful ones have fingers in multiple pies, not only doing contract development but also developing their own in-house games with development targeted at mobile, console and PC.

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