Don Foster MP


Games industry can help economy to bounce back

Don recently published a blog post on explaining how the games industry can help boost the UK economy.

You can see the original article here at

Activision Blizzard’s decision to setup a new studio in the UK should be seen as a coup for the UK video games and the economy at large. The Coalition Government’s decision to introduce a tax credit for video games development, animation and high end TV production in the March Budget will help to create the conditions to attract further inward investment into our creative industries.

The games tax relief is a chance to create a level playing field for UK developers and it could be the stimulus for growth that would give our economy the sort of bounce that is required to make an immediate impact on people’s confidence and expectations. Exciting, dynamic industries can create a ripple effect on other industries that are inspired by its successes. The UK games industry has the potential to do this, given the right working conditions and investment.

UK games industry association TIGA has estimated that over a five year period, the games tax relief would generate and safeguard over 4,660 jobs; £188 million in investment expenditure by studios; increase the games development sector’s contribution to UK GDP by £283 million; generate £172 million in new and protected tax receipts to HM Treasury, and could cost just £96 million.

These are figures worth fighting for and TIGA, which was the critical organisation in the campaign for a UK games industry tax break, is right when it says we need look no further than the impact that a similar tax break had on the UK film industry.

After the introduction of tax breaks in 1997, the UK film industry experienced a massive 30 percent increase in its workforce equating to about 10,000 new jobs. Once in serious decline, the UK film industry recovered and matured into a globally well-respected business which now makes a £4bn contribution to the economy.

Supporting creative industries where there is potential for growth and providing a platform on which they can compete and hopefully flourish makes common sense for Government. Many of the creative companies work in new emerging economies and with leading edge technology. They feed into and feed off of many different industries that touch an even wider group of workers and businesses. We have to get behind these new economies, these new opportunities.

On a final note it is important to consider the fact that the UK has a games history. Activision recognised this when it decided to open a studio here. There are development skills in the UK despite the brain drain of 2009-11. There is a culture here of innovation and creativity that has generated some big games titles in the past few years including the Grand Theft Auto series, Little Big Planet, Runescape, Buzz, the Harry Potter series — I could go on. Game development is popular here with 56 universities already providing 141 video games specialist courses throughout the UK. It makes business sense to be here now and hopefully Activision’s decision will convince the critics and inspire the investors and entrepreneurs.



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