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TIGA's response to UK Games Tax Relief investigation emphasizes cultural importance of games

The Independent Game Developers Association believes that video games are an important cultural product, and UKIE's proposed tax relief for developers would not distort Europe's internal market, according to the organization's CEO Dr. Richard Wilson.

In an article posted to Games Industry International, Wilson outlined TIGA's formal response to each concern raised by the EU Commission's during its formal investigation into the U.K. Games Tax Relief proposal. The Commission announced it had opened an "in-depth" investigation into the proposed tax breaks in April, and was looking into whether relief for video game studios was necessary.

According to Wilson's article, the EU Commission does not believe the Games Tax Relief (or GTR) is necessary because the games industry as a whole is exhibiting global growth, and introducing the act could "distort the internal market" of the region. The EU Commission also expressed doubts that video games are a cultural product, and that the culture test — which determines how best a product represents U.K. culture and history — is insufficient in rating "truly cultural" games.

TIGA's formal statement likens video games to film, and says the development process is a "cultural activity on a par with animation and film production." Artists, musicians, writers, voice actors, translators, marketing personnel and "other cultural localization specialists" participate in making games, and video games have been known to inspire other forms of media, including film and television — the Tomb Raider and Silent Hill movies as high-profile examples. The statement also says 33 million U.K. citizens currently play video games.

"TIGA therefore believes that video games are as cultural an entertainment media as any other in the U.K. and that the necessity of a Games Tax Relief should not be undermined by the belief that video games are any less culturally relevant than films, TV, or animation," reads the statement.

TIGA argues that many other countries support their video game studios, and failing to due so will result in more closures, layoffs and the loss of contracts for major franchises. The statement uses the "iconic British Tomb Raider franchise" as an example, which was moved to North America's Crystal Dynamics from U.K. based Core Design. Introduction of the act won't distort the internal U.K. market, but rather "will go some way towards leveling the international playing field for the U.K. development sector in particular against its main developer territory rivals."

"The UK's Games Tax Relief is needed; it is well designed; it supports cultural products; and it will not distort the EU's internal market," the statement reads. "Games Tax Relief is good for the U.K., it is good for Europe and it deserves the Commission's support."

Read TIGA's full statement here.

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