Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

ironically easy to ‘game’ tax breaks

Just reading here:

And considering how it would apply to my game Democracy 2…

Up to 4 points depending on the percentage of the video game that is set in the following locations

ok…how? how are we allocating percentages? What if there are 4 missions, and 1 is the tutorial mission which is 1/10th the size of the others? is that 25% of the setting? or less? How do we decide how big a level is anyway? by size? What if one level is a huge 16km square empty room with a union jack and the word ‘tax breaks’ written on the floor, and an arrow pointing to the door to the next level. does that count?

set in the United Kingdom or another EEA state

when? Now? how about during medieval times? or how about in the year 3000, with jet packs and robots and laser guns?

if there are more than three characters depicted in the video game, 4 points if two or three of the three lead characters are from the United Kingdom or another EEA state or from an undetermined location

What? I hardly know where to begin. If someone has an American accent but we don’t say where he is from, can we say he is from the UK? What if the game is set in an alternate history where Nazis have occupied London, are the Nazis from the UK? no? what about the Normans? how long ago must a culture have conquered the UK for it’s descendants to qualify? What is the definition of ‘lead’ characters? What if (like Democracy 2) the game has no characters, but has profile pictures of typical citizens? How do we decide which of them are lead? What if the game contains sentient robots, are they characters?

up to 4 points depending on the percentage of the original dialogue that is recorded in the English language or in a recognised regional or minority language as follows

What if the entire recorded dialogue for the game is one sentence, a strong American accent saying ‘tax breaks’. American accent, but English language. Do I still get my points there? If I was planning on zero recorded dialog, can i include some just to get the points? How vital is it that the player hears the dialogue? can it be bound to a cheat code? or only played over the end game credits?

It also doesn’t say if I’m allowed to be lead designer, programmer, composer and scriptwriter all by myself and get points for all of them.

This is a mess, as you would expect. Bureaucrats should no more be evaluating video games than they should be picking hit pop songs. This nonsense is entirely due to silly EU laws which conveniently forget the fact that the majority of video games are mad in countries where their laws do not apply. Absolutely bonkers.

Also, I haven’t even touched on engine development. What if you work on code that is enhancing the engine you will use for your next game. Is that work covered? What about time spent giving interviews? is that time covered?

Totally unworkable.

7 thoughts on ironically easy to ‘game’ tax breaks

  1. They sound hilarious and oh so typical of most tax codes. I gave up on trying to even deal with R&D tax concessions in a realistic way (when I was doing actual R&D) here in Oz.

    The problem starts with taxing production…(conversation starter :P )…

  2. I wonder if the bureaucrats would respond to a few of those points “sure, if they’re from the colonies they still count” ;)

    Yea, as usual, you get more of what you subsidize and less of what you penalize. Penalize production (or, at least, reduce its benefit), get less of that; subsidize making games that can be interpreted as fitting specific criteria (and navigating the related regulations), get more of that.

    Of course, Cliff benefited from the subsidization of private solar power generation, so I don’t suppose he wants them to close down the “Inventive Regulations Department” entirely :)

  3. Yeah but there is a lot less grey-areas on ‘is this a solar panel?’ I’m all for governments incentivising what is good, and penalizing what is bad. But they need to realise when they are making silly rules that overcomplicate things, like the whole ‘is a jaffa cake a biscuit or a cake?’ fiasco. :D

  4. Doesn’t sound like they are making it easy for developers to get a tax break, while at the same time they can take the headlines that they are offering tax breaks to UK developers.

    Wouldn’t surprise me if these rules were created so that Rockstar North could not get any tax breaks for GTA development – I doubt the government wants to be blasted in the tabloids for giving tax breaks for the latest ‘sickening filth’ depicted in GTA.

  5. Or what if your product is an add-on to a flight simulator? Does the add-on count as a game? Does the simulator count as a game? It was created by Microsoft games studio!


  6. What a joke. The “test” is far too overcomplicated and worst of all, it’s probably purposefully made that way so that individuals don’t apply, or don’t see how they apply, for tax relief.

    Personally, I’d answer yes to all of them (with whatever amount that qualifies per question) and attempt to receive the best tax relief possible. It’s not as if people from the revenue agency would have enough imagination to actually dig deep enough through your games to see if what you put on your application was true or false. Something like that would actually require extra tax dollars to pull off. ;-)

    Normally I wouldn’t endorse a dishonest solution, but in this case, I’d say F***’em. It’s not practical, but then, neither is this application.

  7. So now the only games we can make have to be set in the UK or EEA? I had to Google what the hell EEA is! What about games set in space? Or alternate an Universe? What makes a game culturally British?

    Also who gives a rats arse if it is “British” the idea is to encourage British companies to make games here, not to make games more British.

    It’d be a joke if I didn’t already know dozens of people who’ve left the UK for games companies in Canada, Germany, Malta, Itlay and China. Indeed a bunch more have just gone since Eurocom went belly up the other week.

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