Gov: UK devs need Canada-like "package"

Needs to be "as financially competitive".

No country offers video games makers more than Canada, where funding flagons overflow with tasty cash broth.

By comparison, the UK government appears stingy. And culture secretary Jeremy Hunt knows a change needs to be made.

"We need to offer the video game industry a package as financially competitive as Canada," Hunt told The Guardian.

"I don't know if [a tax break] was the right way to go."

His comments come after last week's UK budget revealed better R&D tax credits for video games makers in the UK - but no tax breaks.

Canada houses some of the world's biggest and best developers: BioWare (Edmonton), Ubisoft (Montreal), Relic (Vancouver), EA Canada (Vancouver), EA Black Box (Vancouver), Silicon Knights (St. Catherines) and Digital Extremes (Ontario) to name a few. Square Enix recently announced plans to open a 100-man (minimum) studio in Canada.

In 2010, the Canadian government donated $4 million to Silicon Knights (Eternal Darkness, Too Human, X-Men Destiny).

The Guardian notes how the Canadian video games industry grew by 33 per cent between 2008 and 2010. The UK video games industry, on the other hand, shrunk by nine per cent.

It's a testament to their tea-drinking resolve that independent studios like Jagex (RuneScape), Ninja Theory (Enslaved, Heavenly Sword), Rocksteady (Batman: Arkham Asylum, Arkham City), Ruffian (Crackdown 2), Frontier (LostWinds, Kinectimals), Team17 (Worms, Alien Breed) and Relentless (Buzz!, Blue Toad Murder Files) have continued to exist at all.

The budget's failure to acknowledge tax breaks for the video games industry follows months of optimistic lobbying not only by UK publisher and developer collectives UKIE and Tiga, but also by veteran game makers such as Ian Livingstone, life president of Eidos.

Livingstone met with UK Chancellor George Osbourne at a private meeting of senior media and entertainment suits in February.

"The fact that we had representation at the meeting is an acknowledgment in itself that the videogames industry is being taken seriously and that it is important socially, culturally and economically to the UK," Livingstone said.

The first of three Eurogamer TV shows about video games and tax breaks.

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