Rocksteady co-founder and game director Sefton Hill has called on the UK government to offer tax breaks to game studios before it’s too late. Hill says it is time for the UK to support its games studios to match the benefits offered overseas or risk losing them.
"A lot of my friends have moved abroad to get work; there's a real talent drain," Hill said in an interview with CVG. "Montreal is a central place for development and it's mainly because the tax breaks they give are so phenomenal."
"It's a real shame, because home computers were so popular and the bedroom programming scene was so big we have some of the best talent in the world in this country," he continued. "That situation is rapidly changing and it's such a shame. We have great developers here but those numbers are dwindling."
Recent data from TIGA suggests that the UK’s game development community has shrunk by around ten percent since 2008. The study also found that two-fifths of those lost jobs were relocated to regions where tax incentives are more favorable. Companies are relocating to Canadian regions, such as Quebec, which offers a 40 percent tax break on production costs.
"You just think about quality developers like Bizarre Creations, Black Rock – people who are making really good games and going out of business," Hill said. "Those guys were so talented so how can that happen? I just think that we could have been in Montreal's position with that backing from the government. It's such a big industry now and we could be world leaders. Britain's home computing history is just incredible."
The UK’s campaign for games tax breaks faces an uphill battle because the coalition government has made it clear that it will not back tax breaks in the first term. It is also now technically illegal for any European Union member state to provide game tax breaks unless a European Commission exemption is extended. Developers in countries like France and the UK say they need these tax breaks or they will eventually have to find them elsewhere.