Fly away, taxman! He’s not allowed anywhere near UK games developers anymore. Or rather he is, but a 25% tax break means he’ll only be there in three-quarters official capacity – perhaps complementing his grey suit with a jovial hat or inappropriate set of sneakers.
The European Commission okayed UK games industry tax relief on Tuesday, after a year of umming and ahhing. And now culture minister Ed Vaizey says he wants the resulting “home-grown growth” to inspire a new generation to enter the games industry – and get a “pretty great job”.
“What I want to see is from great games, that have to have a cultural element to them in order to qualify for tax credits,” Vaizey told MCV. “I want to see some real ambition from some of our home-grown games companies that want to grow and not necessarily be bought immediately by an American company when they get successful.”
In the future, Vaizey hopes these home-grown developers will “expand overseas”, and engage with young people “in terms of skills”.
“The industry itself is a great poster industry for science and computer science and the kind of hard skills that Michael Gove is so keen about kids learning,” he said. “So it would be great to see as many games companies as possible, when they’re not busy working, engaging with young people and showing how studying science at school gets you a pretty great job at the end of it.”
Asked about the UK studios shut down while the European Commission considered the tax breaks, Vaizey said the delay was “unavoidable”.
“We worked incredibly hard with the Commission, but the Commission needed more convincing than it did on TV and animation,” he said. “And we had to work it through, which took that additional year to do. We only got it a year behind TV and animation, so I’m really pleased.”
UK-made video games will need to pass a cultural test to be eligible for the tax breaks – with points awarded for use of the English language, UK setting and characters, and employment of British staff. Can you think of any which might fit the bill?