U.K. to get video games tax relief

9:38 AM PST 03/24/2010 by Stuart Kemp, AP

British government's annual budget offers new incentives

LONDON -- It's game on for the computer playmasters with the U.K. government promising a tax relief system for the computer gaming sector similar to that currently available to the movie sector here.

The British government's fiscal chief Alistair Darling unveiled the system of tax relief in his annual budget speech Wednesday, which lays out government spending and taxation plans.

The move comes on the back of months of lobbying by the gaming sector here to help put a stop to games developers jetting out of the U.K. to Canada to ply their trade amid tax incentives.

Dubbed the Games Tax Relief, the tax plan "is good for the U.K. games industry, good for consumers of British video games and good for the wider U.K. economy," according to Richard Wilson, chief executive of Tiga, the industry association for games developers.

The British video games industry contributes some £1 billion ($1.5 billion) to the U.K.'s Gross Domestic Product, and employs 27,000 people here, including over 9,000 highly skilled roles in games development, TiGA figures estimate.

"Our creative industries are also a huge source of jobs, wealth and pride. I will offer help to the computer games sector, similar to the steps which are helping restore the fortunes of the British film industry. This is a highly successful, growing industry with half its sales coming from exports and we need to keep British talent in this country," Darling said in his speech.

Games studios located here in the U.K. include Rockstar, which developed the Grand Theft Auto franchise, and Playfish, makers of games for Facebook.
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