Ramsdale: UK “tax credits have their place”, supporters need to be more “pragmatic”

By Stephany Nunneley, Saturday, 8 January 2011 23:44 GMT

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EA’s VP and GM for Northern Europe, Keith Ramsdale, believes there are benefits to UK tax breaks, but instead of threatening to pack up and leave the country if breaks aren’t implemented, Ramsdale thinks publishers and developers need to take a more “pragmatic approach” to the issues facing the government at the moment.

Speaking with GI.biz on the matter, Ransdale said the UK government is “quite open to what needs industry has” and “whatever industry that may be” and realizes breaks are needed, but tough economic issues at the moment don’t justify “a great big tax relief bill”.

“The conversations we’ve had with government [regarding economic issues] are pretty clear on this – that doesn’t mean to say that we’re not arguing the need for tax credits – and of course arguing the need for an equitable status with other entertainment industries; and I think that’s an important point that hasn’t been made clearly by others,” he said. “What applies to other entertainment sectors needs to apply to the videogames industry.

“But consumers are being faced with austerity measures, and I don’t think it looks great on a company to be bleating loudly that we want our P&L to look better by having tax credits given to us, by the very government that’s having to pass these austerity measures onto consumers. We want to have a long term conversation with the government, so that as the economy improves, we’re ready with a strategy together with them to actually then start to see an R&D tax credit scheme come to fruition as the government’s in a position to be able to deliver against that.

“While R&D tax credits remain a criterion that in the longer term we’d very much like to see played out, we’re also talking to them about other financial options that could run. Some of them are schemes that are currently available, and actually the conversation is how we can make access to them easier. So it’s about a little sense check – EA does have a different, much less aggressive view than our big competitor there, who doesn’t speak on behalf of all of us.”

Ramsdale said EA is not against tax breaks at all, as he thinks “tax credits have their place” but at the moment small and medium-sized businesses have “access to current financial measures” and he and others are currently working with UKIE to make sure business know about all options available.

Basically, he is just asking folks to remain patient. Sometimes, the squeakiest wheel doesn’t get the oil as fast as it would like.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has twice mentioned packing up and leaving the UK if better breaks were not implemented. Sony UK head Ray Maguire also said – back in June 2009 – existing projects in the UK would continue, but future projects “would have to be looked at”, adding that upcoming projects planned for the UK could possibly “go abroad”.

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