Cecil: Cultural concern sparked tax break doubts

Cecil: Cultural concern sparked tax break doubts
Michael French

By Michael French

June 25th 2010 at 5:00PM

Revolution Software founder says behind-the-scenes scepticism marred industry unity

Foreign-owned firms were sceptical about the potential for a UK games tax break according to a highly respected games designer.

Posting on Devleop earlier today, Revolution's Charles Cecil - the designer of Broken Sword and the new Doctor Who game, and a passionate lobbyist for the games industry - recounted his take on meetings with MPs that confirmed publishers were unwilling to back a games development tax break.

The comments came just hours after we broke the news that a global publisher had moved to dissuade UK authorities from making good on the previous government's promise for a UK tax break. It's a report that has stunned the industry, and which some have tried to futilely refute.

Cecil said: "In March I was invited to an event at the House of Commons - this was just before Labour made their commitment.

"There I met a number of MPs with an interest in the sector. I was told that they were getting mixed messages from the industry: that foreign owned publisher/publishers were lobbying hard against the tax break because they were concerned about the cultural test.

"Without a uniform voice, we were, I was told, highly unlikely to get a tax break. So essentially, this story is accurate."

His comments have since been reposted on other sites.
Cecil makes it clear, however, that he feels the 'opportunity for tax breaks' was lost much earlier than Alastair Darling's original promise for one back in March - and instead that the global economic meltdown made it impossible for any government to usher in a concession for games production.

Cecil said: "My opinion is that the opportunity for tax breaks was realistically lost once the banking crisis struck. Gordon Brown had a long reign of apparent prosperity before things turned sour - he had plenty of opportunity to introduce the initiative without too much risk of controversy."