Former IGDA Boss: Tax Breaks Aren't Everything

May 24, 2011 -

Jason Della Rocca, the former IGDA boss and founder of Perimeter Partners, says that the video game industry needs to start thinking globally and stop worrying about local and regional advantages such as tax breaks. The elephant in the room was Canada's tax breaks and how various territories in the Great White North are pealing studios away from the United Kingdom.

Speaking to GameIndustry.biz at the Nordic Game Festival earlier this month, Della Rocca talked at length about tax-breaks and why they are such a small part of a larger eco-system. Della Rocca thinks that chasing tax breaks alone is a waste of energy.

"Well you know, look at California," said Della Rocca when asked about Canada's tax breaks. "They have forty percent of the US industry's workforce. There are no incentives there. Do we say that that pooling is cannibalizing the rest of the country? I mean, it absolutely is - people are coming from all over the world to work at the awesome companies there.

So Canada can also be 'blamed' for maybe recreating a bit of that through the incentives and the job creation demand, but my sense is that it's more rhetoric. 'Look at Canada and all they've done!' Can we actually look at the people and see how many people actually left and went to Canada? I don't get the sense that it's planes full of UK developers.

So are they stealing those people? I don't know. Maybe, but I don't really know. It'd be interesting to look at those numbers and see what sort of effect it has. I'm much more thinking in a global perspective. Although I may help specific governments grow their industry in their country, I want to see the industry be healthy on a global basis. So personally I don't care if you go from one country to another or not."

Della Rocca believes that tax breaks are not as important as an environment that establishes important necessities such as education, infrastructure and the talent that an industry requires.

"The tax-break issue... It's not about the tax-breaks alone. When I talk about the industry I talk about an eco-system kind of metaphor. It's very dynamic, it's a complex system, there's lots going on, it's not clear that introducing a tax-break is going to be the thing that all of a sudden makes your ecosystem thrive.

In fact there are regions where there's nothing - it's a desert. So you say, we have this desert and we'd really like there to be a game industry there because we think it's sexy and good jobs etc. So they look at Canada and say, well, they're doing so well because they have these tax-breaks, let's put a tax-break in our desert."

Della Rocca goes on to say that the UK games industry has a better chance of educating and engaging its membership than it does getting tax relief passed by politicians. He also says that you can't put tax relief in a region that has no talent or structure and expect good results. In his view, the UK should have spent its energy on business acumen and educating developers and publishers on new digital distribution methods and platforms.

In closing he says that trade groups, such as TIGA, don't always focus on what they should:

"Recently, I think in the last few months, TIGA announced some digital distribution training seminar. Great - but they should have done that three years ago. Had they done that three years ago, again, pure speculation, imagine they'd been talking to the UK studios and entrepreneurs and start-ups then. If they'd got started on these platforms three years ago? To me, that would have had much more impact than if they had won tax breaks."

Source: GameIndustry.biz


 
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Matthew Wilsonyes it help a sub section of the poor, but hurt both the middle and upper class. in the end way more people were hurt than helped. also, it hurt most poor people as well.04/16/2014 - 12:13am
SeanBJust goes to show what I have said for years. Your ability to have sex does not qualify you for parenthood.04/15/2014 - 9:21pm
NeenekoSo "worked" vs "failed" really comes down to who you think is more important and deserving04/15/2014 - 7:04pm
NeenekoThough I am also not sure we can say NYC failed. Rent control helped the people it was intended for and is considered a failure by the people it was designed to protect them from.04/15/2014 - 7:04pm
NeenekoIf they change the rules, demand will plummet. Though yeah, rent control probably would not help much in the SF case. I doubt anything will.04/15/2014 - 1:35pm
TheSmokeyOnline gamer accused of murdering son to keep playing - http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2014/04/15/21604921.html04/15/2014 - 11:50am
Matthew Wilsonyup, but curent city rules do not allow for that.04/15/2014 - 11:00am
ZippyDSMleeIf SF dose not start building upwards then they will price people out of the aera.04/15/2014 - 10:59am
Matthew Wilsonthe issue rent control has it reduces supply, and in SF case they already has a supply problem. rent control ofen puts rent below cost, or below profit of selling it. rent control would not fix this issue.04/15/2014 - 10:56am
NeenekoRent control is useful in moderation, NYC took it way to far and tends to be held up as an example of them not working, but in most cases they are more subtle and positive.04/15/2014 - 10:24am
PHX CorpBeating Cancer with Video Games http://mashable.com/2014/04/14/steven-gonzalez-survivor-games/04/15/2014 - 9:21am
Matthew Wilsonwhat are you saying SF should do rent control, that has never worked every time it has been tried. the issue here is a self inflicted supply problem imposed by stupid laws.04/15/2014 - 8:52am
E. Zachary KnightNeeneko, Government created price controls don't work though. They may keep prices down for the current inhabitants, but they are the primary cause of recently vacated residences having astronomical costs. Look at New York City as a prime example.04/15/2014 - 8:50am
NeenekoI think free markets are important, but believe in balance. Too much of any force and things get unstable.04/15/2014 - 7:25am
NeenekoWell, the traditional way of keeping prices down is what they are doing, controls on lease termination and tax code, but it will not be enough in this case.04/15/2014 - 7:24am
Matthew WilsonI said that already04/14/2014 - 4:22pm
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, The could also lower prices by increasing supply. Allow high rise apartment buildings to be built to fulfill demand and prices will drop.04/14/2014 - 3:48pm
Matthew Wilsonthe only way they could keep the price's down, would be to kick out google, apple, amazon, and other tech companies, but that would do a ton of economic damage to SF, but I am a major proponent of free markets04/14/2014 - 2:54pm
NeenekoThe community people are seeking gets destroyed in the process, and the new people are not able to build on themselves. Generally these situations result in local cultural death in a decade or so, and no one wins.04/14/2014 - 2:09pm
NeenekoWell yes, that is the 'free market', but the market is only a small piece of a much larger system. The market does not always do the constructive thing.04/14/2014 - 2:06pm
 

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