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Tax cuts will “incentivise” pubs to invest in UK, says TIGA

The announcement yesterday of tax breaks for the UK games industry will "incetivise" publishers from around the world to invest in the British games industry, TIGA CEO Richard Wilson has told VG247.

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Osborne makes the tax breaks
announcement in front of the House of
Commons during yesterday's Budget.

UK chancellor George Osborne announced yesterday afternoon tax breaks for the UK games industry alongside similar moves in the animation and high-end TV production industries.

No hard facts were given, but TIGA research indicates that it would safeguard 4,661 direct and indirect jobs, up to £188 million in investment and contribute £283 million to the UK's GDP.

In theory, the breaks will be an incentive in bringing in publishers who have set up shop elsewhere.

One of the main "elswheres" is is Canada, where EA, THQ, Ubisoft, Warner and Square Enix have all set up major studios in the past few years in both Montreal and Toronto.

The breaks are exciting to the UK industry, but hasn't the horse already bolted?

"Absolutely not," TIGA head Wilson told VG247 last night.

"TIGA's tax break will incentivise global publishers to invest in the UK games industry and indigenous independent game developers will be left with more resources to invest in growing their studios, their teams and developing more amazing games."

Sports Interactive boss Miles Jacobson admitted the breaks, which will come into affect in April next year pending state approval, came a little late, but insisted it's better than nothing.

"The tax credits have come later than desired for sure - but it's better late than ever," Jacobson told VG247. "They'll give studios in the UK, from the big ones to the start-ups, the opportunity for more investment when they are introduced in 2013, which is a good thing indeed.

"It'll change our plans for the long term as we'll be able to invest more in development, which should make our games better for all who want to play them."

Just Add Water boss Stewart Gilray, currently overseeing the revitalisation of the Oddworld IP, said the new breaks will help.

"The industry is getting new staff all the time, and there are even cases of people coming home to the UK because perhaps they don't like it over there," he told us.

A new golden era

Wednesday's news couldn't have come at a better time for the industry. With the breaks, the roll-out of high-speed broadband across the UK and the introduction of open-source ICT as of the new academic year this coming September, it seems the UK games development industry is about to enter a new golden age. It's a point Wilson agreed with.

"Thanks to TIGA's victory in delivering a tax break for games production, we can expect renewed growth in the UK video games sector," he said.

"Changes to ICT in schools are good news, but we do need to incentivise more students to study computer science and mathematics in higher education."

Jacobson added he envisioned the breaks were part of a "long-term" plan.

"We have to look at it as a long term thing - students starting to learn programming next year will take 10 years to come through the system into employment," he said.

"And there's going to be a lack of teachers too in the early day. But long term, it's very positive indeed."

Gilray warned there still could be a motivation issue in all this, however.

"We need the younger generation to want to do it," he said. "It's all well and good opening avenues for them, it's if they take them that is yet to be determined."

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