Brighton has a fledgling digital games sector that could be a global player but the global playing field is far from level. Without government intervention it’s not likely to be.
The UK gaming industry enjoys cutting edge design and Brighton is well ahead of the curve with a successful group of gaming companies established here and others interested in locating in the city.
Global sales of digital games reached $3.2bn in 2008 and these companies create some of these games (as opposed to publish and distribute them) exploiting the skills of some of Brighton’s 7000 graduates a year to provide the workforce.
The UK generally is close to the top of the list of countries that have specialised in this relatively new sector of the economy. Last year for instance Grand Theft Auto IV created in Scotland made $500m in sales in the first week. But the competition in other countries has an unfair advantage, which might knock the UK off its current 5th place in global rankings.
Canada for instance offers substantial subsidies including well over a third of salaries and a 40% tax credit for research and development. France, South Korea and Singapore are also offering salary subsidies.
Now the industry body is lobbying for similar tax breaks that the UK film industry enjoys which it estimates would cost about £150m over 5 years.
Industry insiders hope that the Department for Culture Media & Sport will pressure the Treasury to look at the digital gaming industry in the same light as the film industry. It remains to be seen whether they will.
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