Brit Video Games Industry Whines Over Lack of State Support

04 February 2009

LONDON: The UK government's Digital Britain report pleased all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time – but none of the video games industry any of the time. 

The begetters of such cultural icons as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider are miffed at the report's "missed opportunity" to provide greater support to the sector.

Complains Ian Livingstone of Eidos, one of the UK's largest games publishers and the creator of Lara Croft: "The government has ignored us once again, yet we contribute more to UK plc than the film industry does.

"Whether it's a negative perception of games or not understanding the skills and costs to make a game, we don't seem to register on the radar of the government."

There's a sense of grievance within the video games bunker that government has ignored its lobbying for increased tax breaks and greater investment in education and skills.

Ministers, moan the gamesters, responded only with demands for a new games' age-rating policy.

Video games receive scant mention in the Digital Britain report, other than a brusque nod: "The UK games industry continues to make a significant financial, creative and cultural contribution to the UK but is facing particular challenges."

Among those challenges, says research group Games Investor Consulting, are major tax-break investments in the games industry by the governments of Canada and South Korea, both of which are this year projected to oust the UK from third to fifth place in global revenue rankings.

Revenues earned by UK-made games are forecast to reach over £2 billion ($2.82bn; €2.21bn) in 2008, according to Games Investor

Meantime, Eidos' Livingstone warns that the trend among media mammoths such as Vivendi and Time Warner is to invest in games companies. His own firm, the sole UK-listed games compiler, is currently in takeover talks.

In response to the gamesters' concerns, a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport blathered that ministers "remain fully engaged with the industry and are exploring a range of supportive measures".

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff