British games: Better off without tax breaks?

Good news for the UK game industry - the government is going to take a serious look at offering it tax breaks.About time too. The UK is one of the wor

About time too. The UK is one of the world’s leading creators of games producing very fines games such as Grand Theft Auto, LittleBigPlanet, Burnout and Fable II.

But its position has been under threat for some years.

Generous tax breaks in Canada and elsewhere have been luring away investment from the UK games industry for several years now.

But before the UK games industry pops open the champagne it needs to think very carefully about whether it really should take the government's paycheck.

Why? Because one of the government’s proposed reasons for providing such tax relief is to "encourage the production of culturally significant video games that may otherwise not be made in the UK".

Frankly, forcing the UK game companies to jump through hoops to meet the cultural whims of bureaucrats will probably do more harm than good.

No one wants to play videogame equivalent of a Radio 4 afternoon play, but there’s a risk that’s what the government may demand in return for its cash.

You just need to look at how the French film industry ended up dancing to the tune of civil servants rather than moviegoers to see where such a policy can lead.

If the government sets the kind of demands it is hinting at in its Digital Britain report, the UK games business may be better off relying on its own ingenuity.