Computer games makers hit by tax breaks in Canada

On ne fait pas des heureux dans le monde en favorisant l’industrie des jeux à s’implanter au Canada par un environnement fiscal agressif.

Extrait de: Computer games makers hit by tax breaks in Canada, Richard Tyler, The Telegraph, 13 October 2011

As studios close new businesses like D3T are opening up but concerns remain over the UK's attractiveness for computer games makers

Canada's tax breaks for computer games makers are beginning to take their toll on the UK’s developer community, a team from the former THQ Digital Warrington office has said.

The US-based studio closed the office in July to concentrate more resources on its studio in Canada. The studio has also been shifting from disk-based games and towards ones that are downloaded digitally.

Last month Codemasters said it was considering closing its Guildford office to focus more on its racing games development in Birmingham and Warwick. Activision also closed its Bizarre Creations studio in February, only three years after it acquired the UK company.

THQ Digital was one of a handful of foreign-owned companies listed in the inaugural Telegraph 1000, a snapshot of private companies that have been trading well.

The company had been trading as Juice Games until its acquisition by THQ in 2006. The Warrington team had just completed Kill Team, based on the Warhammer 40,000 franchise, and about 45 people lost their jobs when the office closed.

Jamie Campbell set up D3T, a code outsourcing company, with Stephen Powell, selling consultancy and programming services to technology companies. Clients buying its range of services, from games to corporate productivity software, include games developers working on Microsoft and Sony games platforms like PS3 and Xbox360.

Mr Campbell said: “It is a real shame that another studio in the North West has gone. It is a concern. We are very keen to stay in the North West because we feel there’s a lot of heritage here. We are based in Runcorn and when we are working with companies from across the UK and Europe we can do that just as well from the North West as London.”

He said lots of studios were making changes to the way they work. “There’s a huge movement of developers to Canada because of the tax breaks,” he said. Quebec offers tax break credits that reimburse at least 37.5pc of game production costs.

However, the UK arm of Sony has been recruiting in the North West, as has independent developer Playground Games in Leamington Spa, which has 24 positions open.

Crytek UK, based in Nottingham and formerly known as Free Radical Design, is also hiring, with seven animation jobs among 10 current job vacancies.

“What we are doing is definitely not for the faint hearted,” said Mr Campbell. “But we find we have a really broad range of expertise that we deliver not just at a high tech level but on a creativity basis as well,”

Mr Powell added: “Some studios are still finding success in the UK. The country has always been highly regarded in the industry in terms of the developers we produce.

“There’s an element of where there are good people, companies will make games. People will not move to other countries because of the tax breaks… but the tax breaks don’t help.”

The UK games industry contributes £1bn a year to GDP.