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UK developers need government support

UK developers need government support

Haze developers, Free Radical Software, think that the UK government should give more support to games developers.

As 1-Up points out, the UK used to be a juggernaut of games development - home to powerhouses like Psygnosis (Lemmings), Core Design (Tomb Raider, Rick Dangerous) and Bullfrog (Theme Hospital, Dungeon Keeper, Syndicate). Unfortunately, the UK is no longer the gaming god it once was as many of the best games now come from abroad while success stories like Introversion are fewer and farther between.

Cue Free Radical, the UK based developer of Timesplitters and the upcoming (and compellingly gorgeous) Haze, who want to shake things up a little.

In an interview over at Gi.biz, David Doak says;

"The UK Government needs to do something more useful than just criticizing violent content in video games. "They love the British film industry and stuff and are prepared to give it money [...] yet they'll stand around watching video game developers losing staff."

"Here's an industry that 20 years ago we led the world in - through bedroom rock-and-roll development on the early home computers - and now there's a very real chance that what is now a real profession is going to be driven out of the UK because they don't make any concessions to it."


David, who showcased the upcoming Haze at Ubidays 2007 for us, points to countries like France and China as being more attractive to games developers as the UK government drives up the costs of game development.

In an article on the BBC last month Roger Bennett, the Director of the ELSPA (Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association) agreed with David;

"Our greatest asset is our creativity and in recent times we have seen this talent being leached away through lack of funding and more attractive prospects overseas. As a result, the UK risks losing its position as the source of global blockbuster titles. It is now time for government to recognise the valuable contribution we make to the UK economy, comparative to other entertainment sectors."

With other countries like France already finding ways to honour prominent developers like Michel Ancel, the creator of Rayman, we better hope that parliament is quick to act before more developers flee the country.

Should games developers expect help from the government, or are they just moaning about nothing? Tell us what you think in the forums.

11 Comments

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sinizterguy 29th May 2007, 13:11 Quote
In a capitalist economy, why should the government "support" a company that cant keep up - when the company is there purely to make a profit and not providing some sort of public service ?
CardJoe 29th May 2007, 14:47 Quote
is art a public service or not though?
DougEdey 29th May 2007, 14:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
is art a public service or not though?

Don't you start on the whole computer games are art debate!

Anyway, games companies should receive some form of Tax relief because they benefit our economy massively. But also games developers should stop being stupid and spending their money on rubbish
Bladestorm 29th May 2007, 15:03 Quote
Lets see, if I am reading this right, because general costs of development are higher, profits are lower and they can't afford to pay the talented developers as much as developers overseas, so they move away.

I think the government should probably take a good look at it and what they do for films and think hard about wether they should be helping.

I know the french government in the past has been very supportive/protective of ubisoft for example, so why not here?
Bauul 29th May 2007, 15:14 Quote
Well the government support artists, musicians, film makers etc., both with tax breaks and things like "musicians allowance", where out of work musicians get paid by the local council just for being a musician, I know someone who makes a nice little earning through that.

In many respects one could equate film making to computer game making, they're pretty similer, so if the government supports film makers, they should also support computer game developers. Whether they should support film and game developers is another debate, but if they support one, they ought to support the other.
TheVoice 29th May 2007, 15:32 Quote
It has been somewhat sad to see a lot of originally-British games become Americanised. Tomb Raider seems to have gone that way, as has Colin McRae and the TOCA series. Considering we're one of the largest markets whether or not this is an influence of what this article is concerned with I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me.

We're one of the largest markets for gaming etc in the world, it only makes sense that we have a greater presence in feeding that market than we do now.
Hugo.B 29th May 2007, 15:53 Quote
Quote:
In a capitalist economy, why should the government "support" a company that cant keep up - when the company is there purely to make a profit and not providing some sort of public service ?

Agreed, government subsidization isn't good for companies: it encourages dependence upon government, "nanny state" etc. which is a bad thing.

Though the only British game dev. that I can think of other than Introversion is Splash Damage. But they are a pretty good representation of British GD.


H.B.
pendragon 29th May 2007, 16:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugo.B
Agreed, government subsidization isn't good for companies: it encourages dependence upon government, "nanny state" etc. which is a bad thing.
[/B]

I like your ideas and wish to subscribe to your newsletter ;)
Da_Rude_Baboon 29th May 2007, 17:03 Quote
The games industry should get tax breaks like the movie industry does otherwise it will face the same decline. IMO all gamers should support this in the hope it allows developers to risk development time on innovative projects instead of countless sequels.
sinizterguy 29th May 2007, 20:10 Quote
Youre telling me the movie industry is not in decline ? Right now, I just avoid british movies altogether as they are not likely to be worth the money paid for it ... Just wait till it comes out on DVD and it hurts a lot less.

As for something mentioned previously - Videogames are not art, and no I am not interested in subsidising it out of my tax money. Its a much more global economy and people will go where it is cheapest. If Britain is one of the world's most expensive countries to operate in, then thats what the government should be looking at. Not throwing my money into game developers pockets - which would be very well ligned if they actually made something good.
DXR_13KE 29th May 2007, 22:09 Quote
IMO games should count as some sort of interactive art...... if movies are art why not games?
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