The same thing happened with the UK’s TV industry when the government introduced legislation helping producers to keep programmes. There was a wave of City-financed takeovers and consolidation. I predict the same thing’s going to happen with the UK games sector. Reliance Big Entertainment, the Indian media group which invested in the new DreamWorks and has a string of first-look deals with Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tom Hanks and others, recently bought 50% of British games developer Codemasters. Admittedly, Codemasters has developed The Ashes cricket game (India is mad for cricket), as well as shoot ‘em up Operation Flashpoint 2 and Dance Factory. And the deal was started well before the British government announced it was introducing a tax break for games developers.
But tech think-tank Nesta said last summer that introducing gaming tax relief would make Britain much more attractive from an investment point of view. After all, Her Majesty’s Government will be taking care of around 20% of development costs. “It suggests the start of something,” Richard Wilson, CEO of games lobbyist Tiga, tells me. “It puts the UK on a level playing field with other countries. I think it’s emblematic of more overseas investment coming into UK video games.”