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Businesses Government The Almighty Buck United Kingdom Games

Saving the UK Games Industry 128

Posted by Soulskill
from the eye-of-the-tiga dept.
arcticstoat writes "Following the cancellation of games tax relief in the 2010 UK budget, the UK games industry is now feeling increasingly threatened by Canada, France and some US states that offer tax relief to their games businesses. What's more, it looks as though the R&D tax credits scheme offered up by UK Chancellor George Osborne in last week's budget speech is nowhere near enough to enable UK-based games studios to compete internationally. 'In terms of magnitude, games tax relief would be much more generous,' says Dr. Richard Wilson, CEO of the UK games industry's trade association TIGA, in this in-depth interview about the need for games tax relief in the UK. 'The proposals we've been campaigning for would allow games companies to basically put in a claim for a reduction in corporation tax of between 20-30 per cent on given projects. The R&D tax credits are much smaller in magnitude – we're talking somewhere around 4-5 per cent.' Is this enough to enable UK game studios to compete with the likes of Canada? 'Good grief, no,' says Wilson, 'absolutely not.'"
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Saving the UK Games Industry

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  • Do you get tax relief if you can hold your breath for five minutes? You know, some kind of cap 'n trade thing. And no farting..

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Rather than look to government for relief they should rethink their software development methods to reduce the cost of bringing new games to market. Using Microsoft Visual Studio and C# I can easily target my projects at Xbox, Win 7 mobile and PC with minimal code changes.

      A free version of Visual Studio is available for those that want to hone their skills and take part in this exciting new revolution in software development. Join in today!

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Buy your copy of Microsoft Visual Studio(TM) within 15 minutes of this advertisement and receive your lock-in voucher completely free of charge!

        * Terms and Conditions apply

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          Visual Studio is mostly a free download these days...you lock-in doesn't cost a penny.

      • It sounds like the thing that's making the development so expensive is government involvement (ie: taxes). It's not like the RIAA, or Wall Street, where they're looking for government money - they're essentially asking for relief from government.

        • - they're essentially asking for relief from government.

          The sad thing is that tax relief for games development would only likely delay the inevitable outsourcing to India or China.

          • by N1AK (864906)
            I can understand the reason that games companies want tax breaks in the UK. If other countries are offering those kind of incentives, it makes setting up or remaining profitable in the UK more difficult. If I was a UK developement studio I'd be asking for the same thing.

            Even given the above, I doubt this is something the government should do. The UK is planning to decrease its structural deficit over the next few years. If were going to fund tax breaks, why do it for games developement and not pharma, mi
            • by dadioflex (854298)

              Even given the above, I doubt this is something the government should do. The UK is planning to decrease its structural deficit over the next few years. If were going to fund tax breaks, why do it for games developement and not pharma, military hardware, automotives, medical equipment etc? People argue for their own interests (news at 11), the point of a democratic republic is that representatives of the people, who have the time and ability, to look at the bigger picture decide what is really important.

              Oh, lots of points. Firstly the UK is still a contender in the games industry, and the games industry has potential for growth that few other industries offer and the jobs in it tend to be the knowledge-based, high value ones the govt favours. The availability of jobs, however, is extremely limited and, as we have seen, the profits can easily be off-shored.

              There's very little incentive to the government to give the games industry a break because, and now we're getting to your second point, all those oth

              • UK games companies pay less tax now than they did before, since the rate of corporation tax has been cut across the board.

                Specific exemptions are a bureaucratic nightmare and an avenue for abuse. For once the government got it right.

            • The UK's a republic now?!

              • Although it calls itself a "constitutional monarchy", it was established during the 1688 revolution that Parliament can remove the monarch (essentially what happened - James was removed and William of Orange invited to take the job.) So yes, we are de jure and de facto a Republic whose President gets the job notionally for life and has a funny hat. The difference between us and the US is that they complain if the President does nothing, and we complain if a member of the Royal Family tries to do anything ot
        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          Exactly correct. That's why special tax-relief bills like this should never be passed, because they're just band-aids for a much bigger problem, and only help specific, targeted industries, and the whole thing is an easy target for corruption. Why should games studios get special tax breaks anyway? Why not other industries, such as alternative energy, automobiles, housekeeping services, restaurants, or whatever? Even if you're going to argue that government should use taxation to enforce social policy,

      • by Tapewolf (1639955)

        Using Microsoft Visual Studio and C# I can easily target my projects at Xbox, Win 7 mobile and PC with minimal code changes.

        Er, wouldn't that mean a total rewrite of the engine and all the libraries it uses when you need to target other consoles, the Mac, Android, iOs, etc?

        • by Canazza (1428553)

          yes, but who targets them nowadays?

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Yes, but it's exactly the same the other way around, too.
          Develop for Android (for example) and you're going to have to re-write for iOS, or vice-versa.
          The bottom line is that choosing any platform is lock-in to a lesser or greater extent.
      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        Don't you think these big gaming studios already try to optimize their development? And probably with methods that are far more effective than "let's save $500 on our compiler". As I understand it, most money spend in the gaming business is on the same traditional costs as non-gaming business; personel and marketing. Besides, no matter how much you improve your workflow, it's still going to be less profitable than doing the exact same thing in a country with tax benefits (assuming wages are equal).

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:10AM (#35663210)
    e.g., 'You better give us tax breaks, or we won't give you jobs, hahahahaha'. This is why I'm a socialist in favor of strong central gov'ts. No matter how bad the gov't gets, there's always a tiny, tiny chance they'll turn out OK. Corporations are intrinsically jerks.
    • As long as free trade is god governments are only able to dick around in the margins, especially in countries which have basically no comparative advantage and have been running trade deficits for decades. Nearly the entire first world is living on the dole.

    • The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of a strong central government getting bad is China's "cultural revolution". If you don't mind a couple of million dead people, I guess, yes, you're right.

    • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:31AM (#35663554)

      e.g., 'You better give us tax breaks, or we won't give you jobs, hahahahaha'. This is why I'm a socialist in favor of strong central gov'ts. No matter how bad the gov't gets, there's always a tiny, tiny chance they'll turn out OK. Corporations are intrinsically jerks.

      Let's suppose you then set up a strong central government with socialist policies. And then some other country that you do not control decides to offer a marginally better deal for businesses that locate in their jurisdiction. One would hope that you don't claim the right to force that other country to adopt your sort of policy or to force the company not to do business with them. The worst you can do is forbid them from importing their game they made elsewhere into your country, giving you the triple whammy of pissing of your citizens, denying you sales tax revenue and then having to deal with the porous nature of the internet. See, e.g. the US online gambling ban (and obvious corollary to anything that can be distributed digitally).

      Socialism or central control doesn't solve your problem here at all unless you are really talking about worldwide socialism and one-world-government, about which the less said the better.

      • by Xeranar (2029624)
        This is where IP businesses suffer in the ideology of socialism but really the argument that people of talent that make software are trying to outsource themselves over what are small margins is inane. What right does an English citizen who wants to make video games have to move to the US or Canada? I'm not denying them the right to move or pay taxes in my preferred locality but in effect the argument is shifted onto the government to be held hostage by corporations when it should be on the corporations t
        • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @03:01AM (#35663670)

          What right does an English citizen who wants to make video games have to move to the US or Canada?

          The absolute right. England is not a prison, you can't hold people against their will.

          I'm not denying them the right to move or pay taxes in my preferred locality but in effect the argument is shifted onto the government to be held hostage by corporations when it should be on the corporations to deal with their locality and accept that taxation is part of the system.

          I don't see any argument being shifted by anyone. A company is free to set up wherever they please. England cannot force an American company to set up shop in London, never could, never will. You are arguing about what has always been the case -- that companies will chose to do business in friendly jurisdictions and that the citizens of those jurisdictions have the right to set those policies in accordance with their preferences.

          The contrary position -- that one national government can coerce a corporation headquartered elsewhere -- is internally unworkable in the case of >2 governments anyway.

          For the record, if a UK game company moved to the US over taxation the best answer would be to simply charge them an additional surcharge to place their games on the shelves.

          Leaving aside that it is totally illegal under existing law to charge different import taxes to different companies importing the same good, the UK isn't a large enough market that this would make a difference.

          In essence it would be passed onto the citizens of your own country but it would be a perfect way to execute protectionism which is definitively different from socialism.

          Given the elasticity of videogame purchases, the cost of a high tax is born by the supplier not the consumer.

          • by nhaehnle (1844580)

            I'm not denying them the right to move or pay taxes in my preferred locality but in effect the argument is shifted onto the government to be held hostage by corporations when it should be on the corporations to deal with their locality and accept that taxation is part of the system.

            I don't see any argument being shifted by anyone. A company is free to set up wherever they please. England cannot force an American company to set up shop in London, never could, never will. You are arguing about what has always been the case -- that companies will chose to do business in friendly jurisdictions and that the citizens of those jurisdictions have the right to set those policies in accordance with their preferences.

            The contrary position -- that one national government can coerce a corporation headquartered elsewhere -- is internally unworkable in the case of >2 governments anyway.

            Of course, you are missing the point that under the current system, the point of corporations is to make profits for their owners. If a corporation and its owners currently exist in the UK and are paying UK taxes, then it is totally feasible to set up a system of taxation and tariffs that prevent this ownership from moving around, or eliminates the benefits of moving it around. Just like the US government requires its citizens to pay income taxes for income from their employment, a government could easily r

            • Of course, you are missing the point that under the current system, the point of corporations is to make profits for their owners. If a corporation and its owners currently exist in the UK and are paying UK taxes, then it is totally feasible to set up a system of taxation and tariffs that prevent this ownership from moving around, or eliminates the benefits of moving it around. Just like the US government requires its citizens to pay income taxes for income from their employment, a government could easily require its citizens to pay income taxes/capital gains taxes on assets they are holding around the world.

              So let's say that I, as an American, buy a rental property in the UK. You state that I should pay both UK taxes on the income (income made in the country is taxed by that company), and then US taxes on the income? And you liken this to an income tax? Yea... that is such a crazy-bad deal that I would switch citizenship.

              I'm sorry, I normally favor the UK in this system, but if you move your company overseas, then it is taxed overseas.

              • by digitig (1056110)
                Not saying you should. Saying that the governments have that power.
              • by nhaehnle (1844580)

                So let's say that I, as an American, buy a rental property in the UK. You state that I should pay both UK taxes on the income (income made in the country is taxed by that company), and then US taxes on the income? And you liken this to an income tax? Yea... that is such a crazy-bad deal that I would switch citizenship.

                Except that the empirical evidence contradicts your claim. I will reiterate: Americans who work abroad have to pay US income taxes (of course they can deduct whatever amount they paid in taxes in the country where they worked, and obviously it would work the same way for corporate income), yet the number of Americans who give up their US citizenship because of that burden is insignificant. Perhaps you personally would switch, but clearly the vast majority of people value their original citizenship more than

            • Of course, you are missing the point that under the current system, the point of corporations is to make profits for their owners. If a corporation and its owners currently exist in the UK and are paying UK taxes, then it is totally feasible to set up a system of taxation and tariffs that prevent this ownership from moving around, or eliminates the benefits of moving it around.

              Which make UK corporations less competitive with respect to those in other jurisdictions and encourages anyone setting up a new corporation to chose those jurisdictions instead of the UK.

              Just like the US government requires its citizens to pay income taxes for income from their employment, a government could easily require its citizens to pay income taxes/capital gains taxes on assets they are holding around the world.

              I believe they have obligations under bilateral tax treaties that prevent this.

              Of course, the UK could withdraw from the US-UK tax treaty but the net result would be significantly lower investment and business in the UK, driving up prices for UK consumers and businesses. That is, the UK benefits from allowing US corporatio

              • by nhaehnle (1844580)

                Of course, you are missing the point that under the current system, the point of corporations is to make profits for their owners. If a corporation and its owners currently exist in the UK and are paying UK taxes, then it is totally feasible to set up a system of taxation and tariffs that prevent this ownership from moving around, or eliminates the benefits of moving it around.

                Which make UK corporations less competitive with respect to those in other jurisdictions and encourages anyone setting up a new corporation to chose those jurisdictions instead of the UK.

                In reality, actual founders (as opposed to those mythical creatures in the economists' dream world) do not choose the place where they set up a new company based on tax rates. Most of the time, they simply set up where ever they happen to live. Please show me all those mythical Brits who give up their citizenship and become let's say Taiwanese, because the tax rates there are better for them, otherwise your argument has no basis in reality. You have to understand that this threat of moving to another countr

                • In reality, actual founders (as opposed to those mythical creatures in the economists' dream world) do not choose the place where they set up a new company based on tax rates.

                  As an American part owner of a corporation set up in Ecuador, I can assure you that this is utter nonsense.

                  Please show me all those mythical Brits who give up their citizenship and become let's say Taiwanese, because the tax rates there are better for them, otherwise your argument has no basis in reality.

                  I didn't have to give up my American citizenship to set up a corporation elsewhere ....

                  As for your point on international tax treaties - such treaties are changed all the time when parties feel that the terms are no longer beneficial. If both the US and the UK required income from assets to be taxed at their respective rates, then things naturally balance out again, and your argument on investment becomes moot.

                  No, both parties lose out because of lower trade. If you have to pay double-tax to import a car from the US but only a single-tax for a UK one, then the UK car becomes more appealing by comparison even if they are (let's say by assumption) equal in terms of quality and cost of inputs.

                  So what? Then the corporation would perhaps be able to make a higher profit and if - as I originally suggested - existing tax loopholes were closed, this would result in them actually paying more taxes domestically. The composition of the work force would change, but these things can be dealt with.

                  You can't tax the corporation

                  • by nhaehnle (1844580)

                    In reality, actual founders (as opposed to those mythical creatures in the economists' dream world) do not choose the place where they set up a new company based on tax rates.

                    As an American part owner of a corporation set up in Ecuador, I can assure you that this is utter nonsense.

                    Is it really nonsense? You are still American, aren't you? It seems you really didn't understand my point at all, so let me reiterate one last time.

                    If, instead of part-owning a company in Ecuador, you were to move to Ecuador to work there, you would of course pay Ecuadorian income tax. However, as long as that tax is lower than whatever the US income tax rate is, you would then have to pay the difference to the US government. In effect, the tax rate you are paying is the maximum of whatever the local income

                    • However, as long as that tax is lower than whatever the US income tax rate is, you would then have to pay the difference to the US government. In effect, the tax rate you are paying is the maximum of whatever the local income tax rate is and the US income tax rate. In that sense, as long as you keep your US citizenship, you cannot evade those taxes by moving abroad.

                      Actually, I don't pay any US taxes on profits that I do not repatriate. So long as I keep the money in the Ecuadorian corporation, the US government does not ask for any of it.

                      All I'm saying is that it would be both possible and fair - and remove a lot of the tax evasion incentives - to apply similar rules to the taxes that a US-owned company has to pay.

                      That would discourage US-owned companies from selling in Ecuador (as they would be taxes much higher than their domestic competitors) ending up with there being fewer choices for Ecuadorian purchasers.

                      Basically, let the tax rate that applies to a company be the maximum of the rate of the country where it operates and the rate of the country of citizenship of its owners. Yes, there are details that need to be worked out - and they can be. It's the big picture that counts.

                      We have partial owners from 3 different countries. How is that even supposed to work?

                      I agree with you that e.g. sales taxes should simply be based on whatever country the sale happens in. But when you're talking about corporate taxes that are essentially the corporate equivalent of a person's income tax, then there is really no reason not to apply a similar system.

                      But the corporation lives in Ecuador, not the U

          • by digitig (1056110)

            What right does an English citizen who wants to make video games have to move to the US or Canada?

            The absolute right. England is not a prison, you can't hold people against their will.

            The US and Canada have a say, too. I doubt I would be allowed by the US or Canada to move there to work (unless I won the green card lottery) so no, I don't have the right.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              There are a ridiculous number of british people in california or vancouver writing games who went over in the 1990s before the immigration system got 0wned. Neil Young (EALA then ngmoco) and Dave Perry (Shiny) are two of the more high profile.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      One the one hand you have corporations that will do everything to push the boundaries of law in order to gain power.
      On the other hand you have governments that can just change laws in order to gain power.
      I'm reminded of something with "absolute power"...

    • corporation - "take less money from us and we'll give you jobs"

      government - "give us more of your money and we'll give you jobs"

      Umm... sounds like the corporations wins here as the lesser of two evils :P

  • The UK is enacting severe austerity measures on its citizens and companies that develop *games* are whining about not getting large enough tax breaks? Talk about being out of touch, this isn't "let them eat cake" its "how come we aren't getting enough cake?". Meanwhile people are having their bread portions slashed.
    • Must...resist...obvious...overused...joke...

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      The point is, this is an investment. Invest a pound in the games industry and you get more than that back in tax revenue.

      At least that's the claim.
      • by delinear (991444)
        It depends how much it costs you to give that industry the breaks it's asking for. If it costs a lot to set up a different taxation mechanism for that business but the returns are low (because the industry employs few people, or because it is mobile enough that someone else can offer better tax breaks and they can relocate in months) then you might not see a return on that investment. Worse, you risk creating a loophole that other businesses can abuse to avoid taxation. I do think the government should be d
      • Is it being treated with the same rigor as an investment? What is the projected rate of return? Given the already low tax rate corporations in the UK enjoy, how will further cuts impact that rate of return? Is it certain the tax cuts are necessary?
    • by funkatron (912521)
      TBH, I say good luck to them. The austerity measures in the UK are largely unnecessary and should be resisted in every way possible.
      • The austerity measures in the UK are largely unnecessary and should be resisted in every way possible.

        Ain't that the truth. If only the nimby environmentalist anarcho-luddites would allow us to farm unicorns genetically modified to shit gold we could all be as rich as Croesus.

      • by leathered (780018)

        Right on comrade, we should carry on borrowing and spending and let the next generation pay for it all.

        • You're kidding yourself if you think western governments are going to pay even a fraction of their debt back. It's all just paper. You'd think the chinese would've learned a thing or two from how we treated the native americans, or the africans for that matter. Face facts: the west is never going to pay, it can't, and if the whole economy comes crashing down around us (it doesn't have to, the two sides could just shred the paper) we'll have an old-fashioned world war on our hands. Austerity is bullshit, the

      • by Xest (935314)

        Our previous government built a bloated public sector that employs 1/3rd of the UK's working population off the back of massive tax income from financial services.

        That massive tax income from financial services is no longer so massive and the massive decline in tax revenue has not been able to be picked up by any other industry sector, thus the public sector is no longer affordable in it's current overly bloated state.

        You have a very fucking weird definition of "unnecessary", there is not a cats chance in h

    • by Xest (935314)

      Well it wouldn't be so bad, but:

      'The proposals we've been campaigning for would allow games companies to basically put in a claim for a reduction in corporation tax of between 20-30 per cent on given projects. The R&D tax credits are much smaller in magnitude â" we're talking somewhere around 4-5 per cent.'

      20 - 30 percent? Corporation tax in the UK is now only 26% anyway, which is already less than almost the entirety of each of the countries listed in the summary.

      Sure our government cancelled game

      • It sounds like they basically want to pay no tax at all. I'm sorry but what's the point in us having them here in the first place then if they don't contribute anything much back to society?

        Right on.

  • What games? (Score:1, Insightful)

    marbles? ping-pong? hide-and-go-seek? dodgeball? Are these games given tax relief?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        One studio that, as a different AC pointed out, was bought out by Square Enix, a Japanese corporation.

        What my fellow AC neglected to point out is that Eidos only has a single studio left in the UK. Oh, and of those games you list, only Tomb Raider and Timesplitters are British.

        The rest are:

        Hitman - Denmark (IO Interactive)
        Commandos - Spain (Pyro Studios)
        Deux Ex - US (Ion Storm)
        Legacy of Kain - Canada (Silicon Knights) / US (Crystal Dynamics)
        Thief - US (Ion Storm)
        Fear Effect - US (Kronos Digital Entertainmen

      • by Inda (580031)
        Judging by the photos of Team17's car park, all I can say is good. They obviously get paid well, so there is no need for government handouts.
      • by pstils (928424)
        not to mention the GTA series
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Never heard of the GTA series, or Red Dead Redemption then?

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        Or the total war series (creative assembly). Or a whole lot of the Lego games ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveller's_Tales)

  • Didn't know there was one. Cool.

    • Didn't know there was one. Cool.

      Sad. Growing up in the nineties in europe the UK was a games industry powerhouse with companies like Psygnosis [wikipedia.org] (Lemmings, Shadow Of The Beast), Bullfrog [wikipedia.org] (Populous, Syndicate, Theme park), Acornsoft [wikipedia.org] (Elite), etc, etc. It seemed like all the cool games in the world were coming out of the UK.

      • by mvdwege (243851)

        You forgot Llamasoft.

        Mart

        • Revenge of the mutant camels was absolutely insane, it must've warped my young mind :-) Minter's in a category all his own and he's still at it after all these years, bless him.

      • by bhcompy (1877290)
        And Psygnosis is dead(effectively). And you didn't even show their best/most well-known games of the 90s(GPolice, Colony Wars, and the best racing game ever Wipeout XL). Very sad. One day I hope someone competent resurrects some of their great franchises.

        DMA Design(GTA) was also out of UK
    • Seriously? A look at wikipedia yields the following: 'The country houses 23 of the top 100 successful studios in the world' 'the country houses many of the world's most successful franchises such as Tomb Raider, Grand Theft Auto, Fable, DiRT and Total War' Heard of those?
  • by johncandale (1430587) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @02:52AM (#35663632)
    It's so hard to cut spending because no matter what program you cut, some group and some trade association or citizen group has a vested interest in it. I say good job UK. It's not like video games is a infant industry that needs support. All government funds can do is muck up efficiency. Good games will do well in the UK and great games will get distribution internationally and in the long term, the industry will be healthier and the government will have one less thing sucking at it's teat. Support from the government will only lead to more and more need for support after the first hurrah's, and the industry slowly slides worse and worse. For reference, see every industry ever with government support over the last 50 years
    • by delinear (991444)
      It's nothing to do with efficiency. A company in the West whose primary (pretty much their only) ongoing overhead is never going to compete with one in a developing country, no matter how efficient you make it. Even paying your entire staff minimum wage will make your product ridiculously expensive. Giving tax relief won't necessarily ease the pain much, but the bigger issue is that the government needs to demonstrate that it's behind the industry in order that potential future employees gain the skills nec
      • What kind of nonsense is that? If you can't complete in a field like video games, you suck. There is plenty of people in 1st world countries that are entering the market for the first time all the time. This is about ownership. And when they get big enough they can still export production overseas if they want. You are creating a product with a relatively small team. And it's a one shoot item. It's not like a factory where you have 10,000s employees making shoes 24/7 365. This is what you shou
    • by jabjoe (1042100)
      Or look at Germany and it's relationship with industry and it undermines your point.
      https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Rhine_Capitalism [wikimedia.org]
      If we apply your thinking to the banks we let them burn and us with them.

      Don't everyone thinks the cuts should being being done as they are:
      http://falseeconomy.org.uk/ [falseeconomy.org.uk]
      • I did say over 50 years. You are only looking at the bump before the next decline.

        and yes we should have let the banks burn. btw, Have you heard they are out of money again? And no we don't 'go with them' because ~98 percent of the popultion has less then 100,000 in the bank and it's insured and only a small percent of the population would be effected. On the other hand here you have trillions of middle class wealth evaporated while the banks trudge on. If you had let the banks get close to colla

        • And no we don't 'go with them' because ~98 percent of the popultion has less then 100,000 in the bank and it's insured and only a small percent of the population would be effected.

          Insured ... by the banks, backed with stocks which would tank if the economy failed. I'm not saying we shouldn't have let the banks fail but the "insurance" on your money would be worth fuck all if they did.

          • it's insured by the feds...
            • it's insured by the feds...

              Who'll print you up some nice crisp new dollar bills to pay for it, which'll be worthless in a currency crisis caused by a defunct banking system (ask Argentina.)

        • by jabjoe (1042100)
          I think the Rhineland model is a better bet. After it's 50 years old, which isn't long, will you just increase the number of years? I agree with Karl Marx on "capitalism will destroy itself", only I don't think it's a good thing and can be, and is, prevented by regulation. We can also use regulation to align outcomes we want with the profit motive.

          The gap was big and growing before the credit crunch. A good website on this and the affects of a unequal society is: http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/ [equalitytrust.org.uk]
  • There was a time where artists and programmers learnt in their bedroom. This was great because when they came into industry, it didn't take much to get them up to scratch as they had been doing it at home, just with less tools and no access to others. Now, in the game company I work at, we struggle to get people who know what we need.

    I wonder how much of the recruitment problem is noise to signal ratio because of:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGar7KC6Wiw [youtube.com]

    These kids go and do "games" courses, but a
    • by tepples (727027)

      There was a time where artists and programmers learnt in their bedroom.

      This time was before 1985, when the NES came out and locked-down consoles started to take over from computers.

      but I dropped out and went into industry when our "professional 3D artist" didn't know what was skinning or IK and seamed to make everything out of spheres

      This project wasn't Ballz [wikipedia.org], was it? Oh wait, that was several years before "10 years ago".

      I also wonder how much of the problem is no one learning "roll in the mud" C/C++ that is required. Those learning at uni, and even at home, seem to be learning only managed languages

      Which as I understand it is perfectly fine for programming games on BlackBerry (Java ME), Android (Dalvik), Windows Phone 7 (.NET+XNA), or Xbox 360 (.NET+XNA). How much knowledge of what's running under the hood is needed to make a competent logic tier (e.g. physics and AI) for a video game on a managed platform

      • by jabjoe (1042100)
        No high end game is done in managed languages. If you suggested that kind of shit in my company to anyone who really knows (i.e engine team or real game programmers) they will laugh at you. Also, you can't get the most out of these things if you don't understand the virtual machine and the real machine it runs on. It's not a excuse for ignorance as many use it, if anything, it requires you know more as you need to understand the virtual machine as well as the real machine.
        • by tepples (727027)

          No high end game is done in managed languages.

          The industry is not entirely high end games.

          How much knowledge of what's running under the hood is needed to make a competent logic tier (e.g. physics and AI) for a video game on a managed platform?

          Also, you can't get the most out of these things if you don't understand the virtual machine and the real machine it runs on.

          That's sort of what I said. But in the era of gigahertz CPUs, of graphics engines licensed from someone else, and of online stores that allow only managed code (e.g. BlackBerry App World, Xbox Live Indie Games, and Windows Phone Marketplace), does it pay to know cycle-for-cycle what is going on in the VM for game logic (not the graphics engine)?

      • How much knowledge of what's running under the hood is needed to make a competent logic tier (e.g. physics and AI) for a video game on a managed platform? Must one know assembly language first?

        It's not just assembly, but data structures and general workings that enable you to take advantage of the environment and know what traps to avoid. If efficiency (time or memory) is required then much of this sort of knowledge is required.

        If something runs slow, somebody without that sort of knowledge flails and tries purely random approaches hoping that some "magical" combination will pull him out of the hole he's dug, since he has no clue _why_ it's slow, nor what to look for. Those random searches rare

        • by tepples (727027)
          If people are coming into video game programming without a working knowledge of the data structures and algorithms taught in second-year undergraduate computer science curriculum, then I agree, that's another thing entirely. Perhaps they've been able to get away with lack of such knowledge so far after years of having done the simplest thing that could possibly work [c2.com] on toy data sets [catb.org]. But having to know data structures and algorithms isn't the same as having to know "roll in the mud" C++, especially when you
          • How different is "roll in the mud C++" from understanding high-speed VM implementations? This is what the "general workings of the environment you're in" are about, whether the machine your code is running on is some assembly-language architecture, or a VM with its own set of performance tradeoffs. You cannot optimize to a system that you don't understand. The understanding of how a managed system works internally overlaps heavily with understanding of how fundamental C/assembly-style environments work,

  • What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @06:26AM (#35664554) Homepage

    I'm British. I pay British taxes. My short response to this revelation that we don't subsidise the game industry from public funds any more is:

    "Fucking good!"

    My full response is:

    "What the hell? We PAY people from public funds to write computer games just so we can compete with other country's computer games?"

    Of all the myriad taxes, charges, jobs, cuts and everything else going on, this is seriously making the whole UK games industry look like a bunch of whiners.

    How about this - you're running a business. It produces a product. That product is FAR from essential. In fact, it's as much luxury as is conceivably possible to the ordinary man. You build it, sell it, make a profit, pay your staff. Like every other business in the world.

    And I'm assuming these tax breaks don't even run to business software, or healthcare software, or educational software, or the myriad other types of software which could conceivably be useful? No, just games.

    Seriously. You're making yourselves look like arses, in public, in times of austerity - people were smashing up London the other day because the government has made cuts, what do you think they'd do if they thought for a second their tax was going to help write computer video games?

    I'm not one to blame everyone on the recession and yell about how bad people have it but this is just ridiculous. Get off your arse and make a product that sells. Yeah, you might conceivably add a job or two if you were giving huge tax breaks by the government, but so would any other industry.

    • "What the hell? We PAY people from public funds to write computer games just so we can compete with other country's computer games?"

      Umm, no. We don't.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You've totally missed the point.

      The games industry brings in more tax revenue than the film and movie industries combined. Healthcare software doesn't bring in reems of cash to our economy. Not to mention we develop technology that directly feeds back into educational, healthcare, simulation and business software. Canada has shown that for every $1 you put in you get $5 back. We wouldn't need any cuts if the government was investing in growth and not pushing through idealogical cuts.

      Our dev base is shrinkin

      • by jabjoe (1042100)
        What? Grow ourselves out of the mess? Government debt not like personal debt? What madness. No, we need to cut to the bone because that has such a long history of working......
    • '...what do you think they'd do if they thought for a second their tax was going to help write computer video games?'

      I think they would be angry.

      Let's hope they don't think that as it would be incorrect.

      They are not receiving public money, they are (were) just not being taxed on all their earnings. There's a difference here which you may have missed.

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      I'm in canada. We're happy to take all those jobs. Because we give back 40% of the salary paid to game developers here in ontario. If you have payroll over 1 million dollars you can get that money faster, if not, you have to wait until the end of the project.

      The UK is stuck between a rock and hard place on this one. A desperate need for revenue from corporate taxes, balanced by a desperate need for income taxes, and being no where near a competitive labour market for either of those.

      Ideally, in an age o

  • HEY HEY 16K, What Does That Get You Today, Thursday (NNGadget) — As well as attempting to give the major record and television companies whatever they want until the end of time, Lord Carter's Digital Britain report includes tax breaks for "culturally British" computer game development [newstechnica.com].

    Planned games include Lard Warrior (“the goal is to sit playing a game. The graphics are truly horrifying and needed us to go to 3.5-dimensional to fit the player's avatar on the screen. Rated 18+ for explicit ne

  • The real problem here is that there are game houses out there that are doing phenomenally well, while others are failing. A lot of this has to do with the business models they have adopted. Many of the 'failing' ones are very vertical. They contract develop games. This works well in a buoyant market, but during a recession, this can cause work to dry up.

    The more successful ones have fingers in multiple pies, not only doing contract development but also developing their own in-house games with development ta

  • Companies will always go for the cheapest sources of labor. In a few years, the starving kids in Bangladesh who have been making clothing all this time will be teenagers. When their fingers get too big, they'll have to move on programming games for ten cents a day and we'll all be out of our jobs.

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