Did 'fear of anti-game lobby' kill games tax break?

Did 'fear of anti-game lobby' kill games tax break?
Michael French

By Michael French

June 23rd 2010 at 1:22PM

Frontier boss Braben says subsidy was a double edged sword for UK gov

Disappointment is echoing around UK games studios after the government yesterday said that it wasn't going ahead with a development tax credit.

But what was the real reason for the snub?

According to one prominent developer, Frontier's David Braben, the Government would have faced widespread criticism from anti-games voices if it had approved the move.

Speaking to Develop after the news was announced he, like many in the industry, expressed his dismay at what many perceive to be a slap in the face - but said that the games industry will remain strong regardless.

"We have the figures to demonstrate the benefits, but in the end I suspect the reason not to do it, despite the pre-election promises from all three parties, is the fear of how it might be spun by the anti-games lobby," he said.

"I am not surprised, but it is disappointing that the government doesn't value our industry as a possible bulwark against recession.

"The worldwide games industry will continue to do well with or without government support, but the sad fact is that without the support we will see that growth happen outside the UK rather than here at home, where it is hard to forsee anything but a continued exodus of companies and talent, as we have in the last few years."

He pointed out that claims a tax break wouldn't work when introduced in a recession are disproven by the very region which have highlighed how successful games subsidies can be.

He added: "Canada started its ambitious incentive scheme while it was in recession and by 2008 had got returns of £1.5Bn from £500M investment."

Ultimately, however, the kibosh was probably put on the tax breaks for not entirely economic reasons, Braben reckons.