The Conservative Party of the United Kingdom (the Tories) have created a page on its official website detailing the planned implementation of upcoming tax breaks for the region's video games industry. According to the page on the official web site, tax breaks will officially go into effect on April 1. The page goes on to note that the new tax incentives will give a financial boost to the video game industry and "help level the playing field" against other countries already offering breaks for their own video game sectors.
Today the British government announced that tax breaks for the video game industry are part of the 2013 budget (thanks beemoh). Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to introduce corporate tax relief beginning in April 2013 for various sectors including video games, animation and high-end television industries. Osborne hopes that these tax breaks will "make the UK the technology centre of Europe."
While the Digital Economy Act was passed in the UK last year, the UK government can't force ISP's in the region to do anything beyond a letter writing campaign against those accused of infringement. The problem lies in the fact that the government needs to make certain changes to the law before it goes into full affect.
Google's ears must be ringing because the House of Commons seems to be saying its name a lot this week. Ministers in the UK are arguing over Google's supposed influence in UK copyright policy.
Pete Wishart, a Scottish MP from Perth, took to the floor earlier in the week to give online rights groups and companies like Google a piece of his mind. Ars Technica has a great news story chronicling the exchange among lawmakers. First up is MP Wishart:
UK secretary of state for education Michael Gove came out in support of the call for computer science to be part of the National Curriculum. Gove made his comments while talking to students at Catmose College about information technologies in schools.
"What we should have is computer science in the future, and how it fits into the curriculum is something that we need to talk to scientists, to experts in coding, and to young people about, to make sure that that part of what happens in schools which deal with technology and computing is relevant," Gove said.
Leicester East MP (United Kingdom) Keith Vaz is at it again, now buoyed by research released last week that found that violent video games change the brain in young adult males. The MP has called for a debate on the harmful effect of violent games just as parents are considering buying them as presents for their children during the holiday shopping season.
MCV is reporting that the introduction of the PEGI ratings system as the standard for games ratings in the United Kingdom has been delayed even further. Last week game industry trade group UKIE announced that the ratings system wouldn't be officially used by the UK until sometime in "early 2012." Today we learn that UKIE has pushed the implementation of PEGI further back to a date to yet to be determined.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said in a recent interview that the British Government is currently "not doing enough to actually teach the next generation of programmers."
Cameron made his comments in an interview given at a Tech City event. The Prime Minister went on to say that comments from UK businesses had highlighted the need for people who can create new programs.
In a guest editorial on the UK version of the Huffington Post, TIGA CEO Richard Wilson ask the British government to give the game industry a break ... a tax break.
Eidos life president Ian Livingstone has praised Google chairman Eric Schmidt for a recent speech about the state of education in the UK, calling it a "ringing endorsement" of the Livingstone-Hope video games skills review. In fact, says Livingstone, "It's as though he lifted his comments straight from Next Gen." - referring to the report he helped create.
UK culture minister Ed Vaizey was also apparently "delighted" that Schmidt's MacTaggart lecture echoed the key conclusions of the government-backed Next Gen report.
UK video game industry trade group TIGA proposed today that the UK's Coalition Government should open the Small Firms R&D Tax Credit to promote "a high technology recovery and job creation in high technology industries." TIGA made the comments in response to a "consultation exercise" by HM Treasury on the R&D tax credits.
UK video game industry trade group TIGA today issued a statement supporting MP Jim McGovern's call on the Creative Industries Minister to review the issue of Games Tax Relief "as a matter of priority." The MP made his comments yesterday in Parliament. McGovern raised the issue in Culture, Media and Sport questions in the Westminster Parliament with the Creative Industries Minister, Ed Vaizey MP. Obviously TIGA supports tax incentives for the videogame industry.
"I discussed future Government support for the creative industries—including the video games sector—with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the development of the plan for growth which was published alongside Budget 2011," said Edward Vaizey. "The plan for growth sets out the specific actions that we are taking to tackle major barriers to growth in the creative industries and to create the right conditions for creative businesses to flourish."
The United Kingdom's Department for Culture, Media and Sport said this week that complex technical details are behind the delay of implementing PEGI age-ratings for video games in the UK. There is some doubt that the ratings system will become law this year, but the DCMS says that it is working hard on getting it done.
"We are working to put the scheme into implementation as soon as possible," a DCMS spokesperson told GamesIndustry.biz, but did not offer a revised timetable.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, UKIE, the Video Standards Council, and ratings body the BBFC, are said to be at a "delicate" stage in the negotiations. Sources familiar with the matter tell GameIndustry.biz that there is a general optimism that the system has a chance of becoming law "by Christmas." All involved want to sort out the details and get things right the first time, before pushing forward.
UK video game industry trade group UKIE issued a press statement today "welcoming" the "Bailey Review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood." The report emphasized the need for "responsible action" of video game developers when it comes to protecting children and the positive steps the industry has taken. In its submission to the Review (found here), UKIE pointed out the positive actions the UK video games industry is already taking to protect children. Those efforts include the introduction of the PEGI age rating system for video games, responsible advertising and online ratings efforts. UKIE (then as ELSPA) successfully lobbied the government to "enshrine" the PEGI system in the Digital Economy Act 2010.
An Early Day Motion tabled by UK Labour MP Keith Vaz, an outspoken critic of video games, has managed to garner 11 signatures. The Early Day Motion calls for better control of video game sales to customers under the age of 18, and encourages parents to limit the screen time of children. Eight signatures are from Labour MPs, with one from the Liberal Democrats, one from the Conservatives and another from the DUP. The petition was tabled last Friday, May 13th.
Develop points out that these signatories have basically agreed that video games are addictive, and that game playing should be combined with a variety of extra-curricular activities (preferably outdoors) to ensure that "children flourish." The motion also highlights the "Hungarian EU Presidency priority of protecting minors from harmful audiovisual media content in media legislation.”
A review of copyright laws in the United Kingdom recommends that the government makes some serious changes that work in the digital age we now live in. A new report, requested by PM David Cameron who had concerns that current copyright laws had become outdated, has been released and it recommend some changes that the music, movie and other entertainment industries might find horrific.
The report penned by Professor Ian Hargreaves of Cardiff University suggests legalizing the practice of copying music and films. It also calls for a special agency to be set up (a Digital Copyright Exchange) to handle mediation between rights holders and those that want to license content. Other suggestions include loosening rules on fair use, parodies and other uses of content.
UK video game trade group UKIE has called on the British government to include computer science as a major part of the National Curriculum, saying that it is integral to the future growth of the country's high tech industries and the game industry.
The National Curriculum is currently under general review and UKIE is doing its best to put its two cents in by making its own submission. The group says that computer science should be taught as a standalone subject available to all children beginning in grade school. Current curriculum focuses on using existing software packages and does not offer solutions that teach software creation or any programming skills.
UKIE's recommendations point to the Livingstone Hope review, which also called for sweeping changes to the way computing subjects are taught in schools. UKIE says that the current skills gap is bad for the video games industry and any business that have computer technology skills at its core.
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, claims that the much lobbied for tax relief for the UK games industry is "constantly under review." His comments were in response to a question from the Conservative MP for Folkestone & Hythe, Damian Collins.
UK games industry trade group Tiga welcomed Hunt's comments. Tiga CEO Richard Wilson said the following:
"Whilst, we were delighted that the government made changes to the R&D tax credits which we campaigned for in last week's Budget, the introduction of TIGA's Games Tax Relief is the one measure which would really power the UK video games sector forward," he said.
UK games industry trade group TIGA today published a new report called "Powering a high technology recovery: proposals for improving R&D tax credits," which continues to urge the government to improve the research and development tax credit to better support the interactive entertainment industry.
The report focuses on how the R&D tax credits system can be improved for the UK games industry. TIGA says that its proposals for the R&D tax credits would "deliver 60 - 75 percent more value to games studios than the current R&D tax credit regime." This, it says would enable studios to invest more in R&D, generate and retain new IP, and hire more development staff.
TIGA offers the following key proposals:
While most looked at that We Dare trailer and thought "hey this is pretty silly," some regular haters in the United Kingdom are stepping up to complain about Ubisoft's adult-themed Wii game. Speaking to the Daily Mail (a regular hater of all things fun), Leicaster East MP Keith Vaz released a statement that was constrained and to the pint: he thinks the rating for the game may be too low. Even pro video game fans might tend to agree with him:
"The new 'We Dare' game has clearly been wrongly marked as a 12 plus. As a family friendly console, Wii must ensure that there are proper checks and a full consultation before games are graded for use by children. This game should not be released until these checks are made."
Fair enough. The game does contain mini-games that I wouldn't want my 12-year-old engaging in.. like spanking another 12-year-old.. But I suppose that's all up to their parents.
According to a report on Gamasutra, UK Chancellor George Osborne promised support to the video game industry in a private meeting earlier this month with key media and entertainment executives. Among the topics discussed at this meeting were the Government's 'Growth Review' that launched late last year and how the government can work with digital and creative industries to offer better support.
"The fact that we had representation at the meeting is an acknowledgment in itself that the video games industry is being taken seriously and that it is important socially, culturally and economically to the UK," said Ian Livingstone, Eidos president for life and one of the senior entertainment executives that attended the meeting.
Livingstone spoke well of chancellor Osborne and his eagerness to work with the industry:
The Scottish Affairs Committee released a 38-page report today called "Video Games Industry in Scotland," that highlights twenty key proposals it believes will improve the video game industry in the UK. Some of those proposals include tax relief similar to what is offered forto the movie industry, research & development tax relief, and adaption of the Livingstone-Hope Review, among other things designed to create a more prosperous environment for game makers and publishers.
On a related note, the UK industry trade group TIGA said in a press release today that it "welcomed" the report and said that many of the proposals it listed echoed much of what it has said in the past.
The entire list of proposals - taken from Develop - can be found below:
A new report calls for UK trade groups TIGA and UKIE to work together to better support the industry in the region. The recommendation is part of the UK video games education review revealed today (the Livingstone-Hope report).
"Progress is all about simplification not complication," reads the report. "In order to be clearly heard, it is important to speak with a single voice. To be taken seriously the video games industry and its trade bodies must be united to raise awareness of the opportunities it offers and the issues it faces. Only then will it be able to effect change."
The report goes on to say that the UK games industry would be better served by one organization - possibly by combining the two groups.
In an interview on GameIndustry.biz Axis Animation Managing Director Richard Scott said that - even with tax breaks in the UK - it would be impossible to create a "level playing field" with the international development community. Scott explained to GI.biz that because his company works across the mediums (games, film and TV) he was able to see the effects of the UK's positive tax environment. He says that if tax relief ever becomes a reality for the game industry, the government needs to offer incentives that help "local creatives" and not attract international companies.
UK video game industry trade group TIGA has re-released a revised 85-page document showing the positives of the government offering tax relief to the industry. The report, a revision of a document that was released to Labour Party government in 2008, was put together by TIGA, Osborne Clarke, games research firm Games Investor Consulting. The thrust of the report is that, if the government were to approve tax relief for the video game industry, it could create 3,366 industry jobs and create £431 million in investments.
TIGA says that this tax relief should be calculated in the same way that existing tax relief for British films is calculated.
UK-based gamer lobby group Gamers' Voice announced this morning that it is looking for volunteers to help the organization grow in 2011. The group makes the following pitch to gamers in the region:
"If you have ever wanted the chance to defend video games and the people who play them from uninformed bias and undeserved ridicule, then now is your chance. The UK video games industry has two trade bodies who represent their interests. Those being; TIGA and UKIE. But consumers of video games in the UK also need a high profile advocate, which is where we come in."
Those interested need to have an understanding of the video game industry in the UK, must love gaming, must reside in the UK, and must put aside a few hours a week.
They are particularly interested in individuals with unique skills: web designers, graphic designers and writers.
UK gamer advocacy group Gamers' Voice is taking the kid gloves off and reporting Activision to the Office of Fair Trading over Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer on PC and PS3. The move follows an open letter sent to Activision on December 22 informing the publisher that the group had been "inundated with complaints from people who have bought copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops."
The letter asked Activision if they planned to compensate consumers that bought the game in the UK and gave them one month to respond. This week the group took action by asking the government agency to look into the matter.
UK-based game player lobby group Gamers' Voice held its first "Parliamentary Games Day" with Ministers of Parliament and video game industry representatives at the House of Commons. The group describes the event as "a real success" with politicians of all three main political parties attending to play video games with Gamers' Voice on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii.
A total of 16 MPs attended the event. John Whittingdale, Ed Vaizey, Luciana Berger, Clive Betts, Pete Davison, Don Foster, Dr Julian Huppert, Karen Lumley, Jason McCartney, Nigel Mills, Stephen Mosley, Andy Nuttal, David Cairns, Simon Kirby, David Hanson and Keith Vaz all made appearances at the event.
A highlight of the event was when MPs John Whittingdale and Don Foster traded punches through the Kinect Sports boxing game.
According to a report in UK publication The Telegraph, Activision is so upset over not getting the promised tax breaks that it may shut down a 600 employee-staffed facility. The United Kingdom's rollback of promised tax breaks for video game development was killed in June as part of cost cutting measures that the government had to enact in order to get the budget in order.
Bobby Kotick, Activision's chief executive, called the decision "a terrible mistake."
"There are so many other places that are encouraging the video games industry," he said, according to The Telegraph.
The Activision satellite office is in Slough, Berkshire.
Here is the quote from The Telegraph: