Video games industry sees potential of Scottish independence


by a Newsnet reporter

The Computer Games Industry body TIGA has recognised that independence for Scotland would make a positive difference to the industry.   The Scottish video games industry is worth over £30 million annually to the Scottish economy.  Dundee has become a centre for video games development and is home to some 15 design companies.

However recently the industry has been hit by the global economic downturn and last year shed almost 20% of jobs in Scotland, including the closure of Dundee based Realtime Worlds which had a staff of almost 200.  

The industry has acknowledged the support of the SNP in Government for tax incentives for games development but is frustrated that the powers lie with the UK Government which has refused to introduce the tax plans.  Business leaders feel that the attitude of the UK Government is hindering the expansion and limiting the potential of the Scottish games industry.  

Richard Wilson of TIGA in in an interview with Develop, a news site for the games industry said a vote on Scottish independence “could absolutely reshape games industry policy across Scotland” and that the UK Government is “failing to invest in the Scottish and UK Game development sector”.

Mr Wilson said:  “There is no doubt that the Scottish government is supportive of the games development sector.  Indeed, both the Scottish National Party and the Labour Party back games tax relief.

“Scotland has a chance to show decisive leadership to support the sector and show up Westminster’s dilatory attitude.”

TIGA has called on the Scottish Government to establish a Creative Content Fund (CCF) to assist the development of the industry.  

TIGA claimed that Scotland is losing out after the UK coalition government failed to introduce tax relief on games development.  The result has been that investment and jobs go to countries which do have the measure.  The new CCF would provide a much needed boost to the industry.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “We will continue to put pressure on the UK government to implement tax breaks, which we believe is the best way enhance the competitive edge of our computer games industry on the international stage.

“Giving Scotland control of these tax levers would be the best way of ensuring we support all our key industries.”

Andy Payne, Chairman of UK trade group UKIE, said:

“Scotland is extremely important to the UK video games industry, home to excellent academic institutions and a host of development studios globally renowned for the IP they produce. We have already seen other territories – most recently Ireland – put their weight behind the video games industry and pursue specific policies to support talent and attract investment. UKIE continues to push the Government to adopt a similar approach for the UK video games industry, and this includes Scotland.

“UKIE continues to expand its presence and activity in Scotland, and we are looking for ways to capitalise on the manoeuvrability devolution already offers, for example in terms of education provision.  Should Scotland become fully independent, we might anticipate more targeted measures for the video games industry, something the current UK Government would need to be mindful of.”

SNP MSP for Dundee West Joe FitzPatrick MSP, who has worked with TIGA in support of tax incentives said:

“These are welcome comments from the Computer Games Industry.  They recognise that the decision on Scotland’s future is one for the people of Scotland but they also recognise the opportunity controlling taxation policy in Scotland could bring for the industry.

“Scotland and the Scottish Government support the games industry, in contrast the UK Government has consistently blocked efforts to incentivise computer games development in Scotland.

“While other nations like Ireland are able to target the development of the games industry and the Scottish Government is investing in creative enterprise and skills development our hands are tied when it comes to targeted tax breaks for developers.

“The recognition from the games industry of the potential for an independent Scotland to provide better support to the industry is very welcome.

“At the SNP conference we set out the steps to the referendum and the exciting opportunity to decide Scotland’s constitutional future.  The debate is starting and I hope we will hear more contributions that see the potential independence could mean for different industries.”