France Aims For Video Game Tax Breaks

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French culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres wants video games to have the same tax breaks French cinema already receives from the government.

“Call me the minister of video games if you want – I am proud of this,” the culture minister said in an interview last month. “People have looked down on video games for far too long, overlooking their great creativity and cultural value.” Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres visited the European Union competition commissioner is mid-October to argue that tax breaks would not go against the European Union’s subsidy reduction policies. He is aiming for a 20 percent tax break, a maximum of 500,000 euros, for game companies operating in France.

Not everyone is on board with the plan, including The Interactive Software Federation of Europe which represents companies such as Activision, Microsoft, Eidos, Konami, Nintendo and Sony. “The French concept of culture is that the government knows better than consumers,” said Patrice Chazerand, secretary general of the group, based in Brussels. “It is unhealthy to have the French government using discriminatory subsidies to influence video games.”

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot begs to differ, citing high employee wages in France as a hurdle to developing games in the country. “Without production in France, we lose the creativity and diversity that this country offers,” Mr. Guillemot said. “When we create games in a country – if it is China or France – we put our way of life into that game.” This would actually be a requirement for companies looking for handouts, according to Mr. Donnedieu de Vabres. Funds would only go to those that have creative input from France and are deemed to have merit. “Video game characters will not be required to wear a beret and carry a liter of wine under their arm,” he said. “But we do need to protect what is different in video games produced by each nation.”

Source: New York Times

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