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France To Subsidize Games As Art

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the 50-percent-art-and-50-percent-business dept.

48

The New York Times is reporting on efforts by the French culture ministry to treat videogames as art. About time. This initiative will include giving tax breaks for game development, and national recognition of game developer achievements (like the arts award received by Shigeru Miyamoto this March). From the article: "With a total of roughly 100 video game companies, France, along with Britain, has long produced more video games than the rest of Europe combined, according to the market research firm Idate, of Montpellier, France. Of late, however, the French companies have been facing tough times. Infogrames has been struggling against high debt, and an American rival, Electronic Arts, bought 19 percent of Ubisoft's shares in 2004. And Vivendi Games earns most of its revenue from one best-selling game, World of Warcraft, said Laurent Michaud, head of the video games division at Idate. 'It is true that the French video game sector is fragile,' Mr. Michaud said. 'But this is true for companies in all markets due to the quick-changing nature of industry.'"

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Canada (2, Informative)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#16774919)

Currently Canada is offering a competition for independant developers as well:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM .20061108.wtelefilmm1107/BNStory/Technology/home [theglobeandmail.com]

Re:Canada (1)

tb3 (313150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775437)

Yeah, I saw that in the paper this morning. I'd like to get in on it, but for the life of me, I can't come up with a game idea that has Canadian content. I don't think Donut Wars, Eh? would go over too well.

Re:Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16776517)

All you need to do is look back to Anachronox on the PC. They used Canadian money as currency.

That sounds familiar (1)

MonkeyOfRage (779297) | more than 7 years ago | (#16785491)

You play a guy named Gordy who goes dog sledding through lumber camps and picks up back bacon for health powerups? I think it's been done... or was I just really drunk.

Re:Canada (1)

lilmouse (310335) | more than 7 years ago | (#16779631)

I saw an interesting article about subsidies for computer games in Canada:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/70/15 [escapistmagazine.com]

The article points out that the companies in Canada that are getting the money (currently) are ones like Ubisoft - very large and able to move large numbers of jobs around... Money for independent gamers would be nice. But as things are set up, it makes more sense in some ways to give $$$$$$$(CD) to giant companies instead of the little guys - who I think make better games!

We'll see what happens in France, eh?

--LWM

The article does not mention a subsidy. (2, Informative)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16774975)

I could find no reference to any subsidy (word "subsidize" in news item title) in the article. However, I did find a tax break. A tax break should never be confused with a subsidy ("Monetary assistance granted by a government....") since no money is given by the government ($0 of government money spent). A tax break merely lets someone keep more of what they already own.

Re:The article does not mention a subsidy. (0, Flamebait)

thule (9041) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775081)

Get with the lingo buddy. We have Dem's in control of the US Congress now... it's called corporate welfare and I think we're supposed to hate that companies get to keep more of their money because, like, they oppress the workers of the world or something. Yeah, that's the ticket. Did I get that right?

Oh, and rich people, them too. They should not be able to keep their own money either.

always hilarious (3, Insightful)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775127)

It's always hilarious and quite sad at the same time, the idea that anything the government somehow manages not to plunder from you should be treated as gift from the government.

Re:always hilarious (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775427)

But we're talking about corporations here so plunder is ok.


I think. The money they use to pay taxes could not possibly be the same money we pay them for goods and services, could it?

Re:always hilarious (1)

zoney_ie (740061) | more than 7 years ago | (#16784049)

I live in Ireland. Seems like a rather good idea not to plunder corporations, but rather have low taxes for them, and offer various benefits for setting up.

However, in real terms, our income taxes aren't that high either (tax free up to a certain allowance, then 21%, and if you're well paid, the top amount of your income gets 40% tax or so... but you can claim back for all kinds of things, like paying rent, or a mortgage, or having paid tax on other things, or who knows what! An average worker might effectively pay about 7-10% tax).

Where a lot of money comes in here is VAT (tax on buying; 21%), motor (21% VAT on buying a car, whopping huge "vehicle registration tax", motor tax, excise duty on fuel), and drink (we drink lots and there is huge excise). This is reasonably good (cause you have all the money from happy companies and high pay with low real income tax) but it doesn't work so well for those who are poor (they don't pay income tax, but can't as easily afford to pay 21% tax on purchases or afford to drive, and like anyone else in Ireland they drink lots). We have a problem with nearly full employment that there are people on more than minimum wage (not much under $10 an hour) who are "poor" in real terms (cause of the high cost of living here from indirect taxation, particularly on motoring). However, you can live like a king if you drink little, don't drive a car, don't live in Dublin, and aren't buying a house. And to be fair, none are must haves. Even with poor public transport you can afford to get a poorer job (outside Dublin), pay the costs of buses, trains and taxis, etc. And you can save money to make getting a house easier when you move up in pay/career (and when the housing market/bubble bursts).

Perhaps the US tax system would be fine too if you didn't spend half the budget on "Defence" and spent more on healthcare, jobs, etc.

Re:always hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16780165)

Then they should regard living in civilization as a gift since they have a reduced bill for its upkeep.

Re:always hilarious (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16828686)

"Then they should regard living in civilization as a gift since they have a reduced bill for its upkeep."

Nice substitution of "paying for its upkeep" for what the money really goes for: to enrich and empower the rulers. You know, the version of the golden rule that is "Those that make the rules get the gold". Of course, the rulers always say they are robbing everyone in order to "help society". Your "upkeep civilization" wording shows that that you have bought into it.

Re:The article does not mention a subsidy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16782617)

We have Dem's in control of the US Congress now... it's called corporate welfare and I think we're supposed to hate that companies get to keep more of their money because, like, they oppress the workers of the world or something. Yeah, that's the ticket. Did I get that right?

No, it's more like: big companies have lots of money; big companies benefit greatly from doing business in the world's greatest economy; therefore, big companies can damn well give something back to the community instead of merely enriching their owners. Hey, guess what - America doesn't come free. You wanna live here or benefit from our business, you damn well pay your way or get the fuck out. Nobody's making them do business in America. Nobody's making rich people live in America. If they don't want to pay American taxes, they can go live in Saudi Arabia or somewhere. We won't miss them. There's plenty of Mexicans who would jump at the chance to pay American taxes.

Look, we have a record budget defecit here. The money to pay the interest on our national debt has to come from somewhere, and frankly I'd rather it came from the ample reserves of massive companies and the super-rich than from MY pockets, since I barely have enough to live on as it is.

Don't blame the tax-and-spend Democrats. Blame the tax-cuts-but-still-spend Republicans. It is Bush and his cronies who have betrayed you by increasing the size of government and increasing government spending.

Unless you voted independent or Libertarian in the elections, you are not in a position to criticize the Democrats.

Re:The article does not mention a subsidy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16775101)

I could find no reference to any subsidy (word "subsidize" in news item title) in the article. However, I did find a tax break. A tax break should never be confused with a subsidy ("Monetary assistance granted by a government....") since no money is given by the government ($0 of government money spent). A tax break merely lets someone keep more of what they already own.


Does that mean when taxes are cut for the evil rich that it doesn't cost the government anything?

Re:The article does not mention a subsidy. (1)

MonkeyOfRage (779297) | more than 7 years ago | (#16785843)

Does that mean when taxes are cut for the evil rich that it doesn't cost the government anything?

'Fraid so. Discussing the "cost" of a tax cut is just class rhetoric to foster resentment. In the first year after the U.S. tax cut, federal revenues increased $100 billion due to the economic activity resulting from letting people keep (and spend) their own money.

And believe it or not, you can't give a tax cut to people who already don't pay any taxes. It boggles the mind, perhaps, but it's true.

Re:The article does not mention a subsidy. (2, Informative)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775327)

From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
In economics, a subsidy is generally a monetary grant given by a government to lower the price faced by producers or consumers of a good, generally because it is considered to be in the public interest. The term subsidy may also refer to assistance granted by others, such as individuals or non-government institutions, although this is more commonly described as charity. A subsidy normally exemplifies the opposite of a tax, but can also be given using a reduction of the tax burden. These kinds of subsidies are generally called tax expenditures or tax breaks.

In some cultures, figuring out what a word means occurs before "correcting" someone's mistake. Slashdot has never been one of thsoe cultures.

There are times not to trust Wikipedia (2, Insightful)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775421)

"....but can also be given using a reduction of the tax burden..."

The inapplicably of the word "given" (when there is nothing given at all) shows that to be yet another poorly worded Wikipedia entry. After all, if a mugger takes only your wallet and nothing else he is not giving you your shoes and watch by the mere action of not taking them from you. Thanks for pointing out a Wikipedia mistake.

Re:There are times not to trust Wikipedia (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775467)

Ah - but since this is Wikipedia.... MISTAKE CORRECTED!

not yet. (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775509)

"Ah - but since this is Wikipedia.... MISTAKE CORRECTED!"

Not yet. The header on the article still indicates the problem with it: "Some information in this article or section has not been verified and may not be reliable. Please check for any inaccuracies, and modify and cite sources as needed."

Encyclopedia Britannica agrees. (1)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775785)

Subsidies [britannica.com] mentioned there also mention 'tax concessions' as a form of subsidy. Besides, economically there is minimal difference between me sending you a check for $1000 (tax free) and reducing the taxes you owe me by $1000.

Re:There are times not to trust Wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16781083)

Do you live in the jungle by hunting animals with your bare hands? No? Welcome to society, please share the upkeep costs with your fellow citizens.

Re:There are times not to trust Wikipedia (1)

KiahZero (610862) | more than 7 years ago | (#16918086)

On the other hand, if you have a contractual obligation to pay someone $100, and that person later decides to forgive your debt after you've only paid $60, it would be accurate to say that you've been given $40 - the result would be the same if they took the $100 you owed and gave you a gift of $40.

Your mistake is in analogizing between the government (whom you have a legal and moral obligation to support) and a mugger, with whom you have no such relation.

Strap on your armored beret ... (2, Funny)

ConfusedSelfHating (1000521) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775059)

while you wield a baguette with a chainsaw attachment. Let the streets of Paris run red with the blood of existentialist zombies. May every mission in your tactical shooter involve a retreat. And don't forget your purse.

Count me in. (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775285)

"while you wield a baguette with a chainsaw attachment. Let the streets of Paris run red with the blood of existentialist zombies. May every mission in your tactical shooter involve a retreat. And don't forget your purse"

If that's the new "Frogger", let me know where to sign up for beta.

Re:Strap on your armored beret ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16779617)

"May every mission in your tactical shooter involve a retreat."

Your post was funny, but you use this part as the generic Jingoist-boy-vs-the-French insult.

Do you know what not retreating in real life means? In a real fight?

If you never retreat, you will almost always lose in the end. If you don't know how to retreat when the situation favors the enemy, you cannot win in the long run. Retreats are how you withdraw from unfavorable fights, saving your strength for the ones you can actually win.

Tax breaks as a form of censorship? (1)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775261)

But not all video games would receive support. Funds would go only to those that have creative input from France and are deemed to have artistic merit.

"Video game characters will not be required to wear a beret and carry a liter of wine under their arm," Mr. Donnedieu de Vabres said. "But we do need to protect what is different in video games produced by each nation."

So there will be a government commitee deciding which games get nifty tax breaks and which don't. I am curious if the same is true for movies as well- is there a comittee in France that decides whether a movie is a cultural film or not? Which books are 'art' or not?

This would result in more games focused on being 'artsy' -whatever that means- and less focused on being appealing to people who actually play the games.

Re:Tax breaks as a form of censorship? (1)

Amalas (949415) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775537)

I am curious if the same is true for movies as well- is there a comittee in France that decides whether a movie is a cultural film or not?
In the US, there is the National Film Registry [wikipedia.org] that already does this. Has this lead to more movies focused on being 'artsy'? Not really.

Re:Tax breaks as a form of censorship? (1)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775701)

But this does not give tax breaks, so your point is moot. Empty titles (especially ones 10 years after the movie has been made) do next to nothing to promote certain films. Money does.

Re:Tax breaks as a form of censorship? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775911)

I've always assumed video game makers in France were receiving some kind of special treatment. If you actually look at French labor law, there's no way you could produce e.g. Splinter Cell* (developed in France) if you seriously kept every developer from being in the office more than 35 hours/week, having to keep incompetent employees on for two years, etc. So I figure they've got some loophole.

*Did anyone catch how in the original Splinter Cell, your boss urges you to collect more evidence because "If we're going to go to war over this, the evidence needs to be SOLID" ? Yes, France, we get it.

Flagging a heavily laboured point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16776481)

*Did anyone catch how in the original Splinter Cell, your boss urges you to collect more evidence because "If we're going to go to war over this, the evidence needs to be SOLID" ? Yes, France, we get it.
Yes, UbuntuDupe, we get it.

Re:Tax breaks as a form of censorship? (1)

Justus (18814) | more than 7 years ago | (#16780073)

Splinter Cell* (developed in France)

Actually, according to the Wikipedia article (far from exhaustive, I know, but with the recent release of Splinter Cell 4 I'm not about to start sifting through Google for it), the original Splinter Cell was developed by Ubisoft Montreal. French Canada, yes, but not France.

*Did anyone catch how in the original Splinter Cell, your boss urges you to collect more evidence because "If we're going to go to war over this, the evidence needs to be SOLID" ? Yes, France, we get it.

On this note, although the original Splinter Cell was released in Nov. 2002, right as the United States was gearing up for the Iraq war, I don't think they really meant this as a subtle dig at U.S. foreign policy. My memory of the media/public response at the time is rather spotty, but I don't feel that the U.S.'s decision to invade Iraq was really questioned until a reasonable amount of time after it had occurred. Since the authorization for the use of military force in Iraq wasn't signed into law until Oct. 16, 2002, I think it's safe to assume that it wasn't portrayed too negatively at the time. Additionally, I highly doubt that Ubisoft was going through a game that was due to be released in a month and adding anti-war/anti-U.S. propaganda to it.

Re:Tax breaks as a form of censorship? (1)

denidoom (865832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777503)

That's like product placement, where the governmental cultural accoutrements are the products... ugh. I like the idea of artsy games, though.

Why Is This In Politics????!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16775297)

I thought the politics section was for news related to US government politics. At least that's what it reads in the Slashdot FAQ.

So how is this story about France fit in? Editors, read your own FAQ, and stop posting non-US related stories in the US-centric politics section!!

Quake V: The Nutty Professor (1)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775325)

Confluence of First Person Shooters, RPG, and Jerry Lewis. Just.... great.

Warning: Government tricks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16775335)

Considering that dominant game developers do not consider video game as art [slashdot.org] , what the whole article really means is that French goverment really doesn't support video games at all.

Re:Warning: Government tricks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16775529)

Next in 6 o'clock news:

French Prime Minister Chirac rejected Atari's application for video game subsidies, because the company only churns out sequels of unimaginative titles. In another news, Electronic Art is banned from selling games in France for 'vulgarly overpriced sequels for the next generation platforms', says Chirac.

Re:Warning: Government tricks (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775733)

Ewe Boll is appointed video game film czar!

Ubisoft? (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775351)

So does this meen that ubisoft will be making even MORE games for the Wii? we already have around 10 launch titles from them, don't we?

either way, it is sorta interesting, is this taxbreak also avaliable to things like movie studios and tv?

The favored platform... (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775395)

..will be the Nintendo Oui.

File-Sharing Art (1)

C4st13v4n14 (1001121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775567)

A quick search on any P2P file-sharing programme (for those of us in Europe) quickly reveals that most pirated games and films being shared and available for download are in the French language. The next two runners-up are Spanish in second place and Italian in third. Perhaps this is a new technique the government is using to get people to buy legal copies of software and films?

Even though I am quite cultured and well-travelled because I was made to visit museums and learn lots of history when I was younger, the truth is that most of it bores me (with the exception of heavy metal music). The fact that I enjoy games will now allow me boast that I am indeed very much in-tune with the art world :)

Not again... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16775693)

Another government bailout for Infogrames France (owner of Atari)?! I know making bad video games is an art in itself, but its nothing that any government should be supporting.

Only one thing to say... (2)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 7 years ago | (#16777703)

Suck it, Ebert.

Not publishers--the studios themselves! (2, Insightful)

cold wolf (686316) | more than 7 years ago | (#16778153)

It seems the current game industry business model is starting to break down. All they talk about are how publishers are struggling. Why give publishers a tax break when you can get all the really artistic games a push directly by subsidizing studios themselves? Fuck the publishers altogether--the vast majority of people who have a computer have the internet. The internet is the new publisher.

Subsidizing publishers is encouraging their mindless hunt for mass appeal--which has nothing to do with creativity.

Re:Tax breaks as a form of censorship? (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 7 years ago | (#16783355)

My memory of the media/public response at the time is rather spotty, but I don't feel that the U.S.'s decision to invade Iraq was really questioned until a reasonable amount of time after it had occurred.

The U.S.'s decision to invade Iraq was critised from the day it was made, sometime around 20jan2001.

Re:There are times not to trust Wikipedia (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16784117)

"Welcome to society, please share the upkeep costs with your fellow citizens."

1) When you are robbed, it is not "sharing"

2) We are already "sharing" quite a lot in this fashion.

Re:always hilarious (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16784219)

"Perhaps the US tax system would be fine too if you didn't spend half the budget on "Defense" and spent more on healthcare, jobs, etc."

OK. Let's say we reduce defense spending from 50% of the budget to 19%. Would that solve it? Oh wait, it's already that low: "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_the_Unit ed_States" [slashdot.org]

Re:always hilarious (1)

zoney_ie (740061) | more than 7 years ago | (#16788913)

My mistake. Evidently I saw the 50% figure somewhere else, but it was referring to the "discretionary funding" (i.e. money that is free for the govt. to choose to allocate as they decide). It's still obscene, and how it can be condoned and continued by Christians is beyond me (speaking as a Christian).
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