THQ: Weâ??d build a mega-studio in tax-break UK

THQ: Weâ??d build a mega-studio in tax-break UK

By Rob Crossley

October 19th 2010 at 12:24PM

UK has extraordinary talent, says THQ, but opening studios is about money

One of the industry’s biggest publishers has put into bleak perspective the link between employment, investment, new studios and tax breaks in the UK.

Danny Bilson, THQ's executive VP for core games, today announced the opening of its new mega-studio in Canada’s subsidy-supported Quebec region. The offices are expected to create 400 new jobs.

And if the UK government hadn’t scrapped plans for game tax breaks, he says, THQ would have considered opening its studio in the UK.

“It's all about money," Bilson said in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz

“There's no issue with talent; it's just economics - and if the government finds subsidies there, absolutely we would build out.

In reference to the world-leading tax break rates that Canada’s Quebec region boasts, Bilson said: “I wish that Los Angeles or California would give us 37.5 per cent [tax break] on the labour; then we'd be building out here. If it was in Manchester we'd be building out there. If it was in Lyon, we'd be building out there.”

He added that the talent in the UK “is extraordinary”.

“I actually spent a couple of years of my career when I was helping out with the early days of the Harry Potter franchise with EA, I worked closely with the team there on the first three games. I got to know a lot of teams in the UK - it's one of the greatest talent centres in the world.”

UK trade body Tiga said today the absence of games tax relief continues to harm investment and job creation in the UK.

Tiga CEO Richard Wilson said THQ “has confirmed that the UK is losing out on jobs and investment because of the absence of tax breaks.

“High skilled jobs could be created in Manchester and Warrington. Instead they are being created in Montreal. The UK is not competing on a level playing field. Our key competitors, particularly Canada, have tax breaks for games production. The UK does not. We are losing in the global battle for job creation and investment.

“Crucially, as Danny Bilson said, the provision of a skilled workforce in the UK is not the issue. The UK’s development workforce is excellent. The key issue is money.”

THQ is not the only global publishing empire that spoke out against the UK government’s move to scrap tax breaks.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick recently said his firm needs financial incentives to keep encouraging it to invest in the UK - otherwise it'll start looking to build studios elsewhere.