The head of TIGA, the trade association for game developers in the U.K., says the collapse of planned tax breaks for game companies is the fault of the government, not shadowy saboteurs, although he allowed that shadow saboteurs might actually be out there.
Eyebrows were raised high yesterday when a report came out that the decision to scrap planned tax cuts for the U.K.’s game industry was made not just because of the newly-elected government but because “[one] of the biggest game companies in the world” had actively sabotaged efforts to make it happen. The original report didn’t, and to this point hasn’t, named names, but said the information came from “multiple, very trusted sources.”
But while we all wait breathlessly to see where that finger points, the head of The Independent Game Developers Association, better known as TIGA, is pinning the blame squarely on the government. “What I would say is the key thing is, rather than to look for any scapegoat in the industry at home or aboard, for Machiavellian machinations going on in the background, to focus on the Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats,” Richard Wilson told GamesIndustry. “They both promised before the election they would give us games tax relief. We want them to honor that commitment.”
Wilson did admit that the videogame industry likely wasn’t entirely of one mind on the matter and that there might in fact be some kind of cigarette-smoking man lurking on the periphery. “If there was a sinister man in the shadows and he or she snapped their fingers, then it wouldn’t say a great deal for our political leaders,” he said. He also insisted that even if such anti-industry efforts were taking place, they’d be doomed to failure in the long run. “Even if there is… or has been a publisher arguing against games tax relief, they’re not going to win. We’ve won the argument. We’re going to continue with the arguments, and we are going to get it established,” he added.
The videogame industry in the U.K. has long lobbied for tax relief from the government, claiming that tax breaks available in other nations has resulted in an unbalanced playing field that has badly damaged its domestic game development industry. Canada in particular is often cited as a virtual tax haven for game developers; in 2007, the U.K. kicked around the idea of complaining to the World Trade Organization about Canada’s tax policies before admitting that it had “no legal grounds” to do so. Canada recently passed the U.K. to become the third-largest game-making country in the world, behind only the U.S. and Japan.