UK video game industry trade groups UKIE and TIGA have submitted recommendations for the cultural test that will help the government decide which companies are eligible for tax relief. UKIE and TIGA shared its proposed recommendations with each other so that they could approach the UK government with a "consistent voice" on the topic. In order for a game to qualify for UK tax breaks, it will have to meet the requirements of a points-based test that focuses on "cultural content and contribution." Projects will need more than half marks (at least 16 out of 30) to qualify. The government's initial draft is based on a similar test for the UK film industry.
Between one to four points will be awarded for the amount of a game that is set in the UK, and up to the same amount will be awarded for using lead British characters. UKIE says that this criteria could prove to be an obstacle for more abstract games like puzzle games that don't have those types of narratives or settings. They are asking the government to add some language that supports the idea of awarding points based on "fictional settings and species." They also ask for the government to recognize that "narrative structure is not an applicable concept for many games."
"For example, one of the biggest-selling UK games franchises is Football Manager, which is based on the Championship Manager game created by the Collyer brothers in 1992. We believe that this would clearly qualify for four points [full marks]."
Another section in the government's proposal awards points for "creative costs" related to paying a development team whose "salaries cost more than 50 percent of the game's total budget." UKIE suggests that the proposal put more of an emphasis on the core programming staff instead.
"We note that the wording of this test is taken directly from the English translation of the cultural test used for the French games tax relief. Whilst this offers an advantage in that it has already been approved by the European Commission, we do not feel that it accurately reflects the creative costs involved in a game and may again have its origin in a film industry test."
Finally UKIE would like to see an independent entity runs these tests; the government would use the British Film Institute to manage all of it…
You can read UKIE and TIGA's recommendations in this document (PDF).
The tax break scheme for the UK games industry is due to go live in April next year.