Basing Tax Breaks on Culture Test is Problematic, Says Head of Euro Game Devs

July 6, 2009 -

France and England both mandate that video game projects be culturally relevant in order to qualify for financial incentives. But the head of the European Game Developers Federation told gamesindustry.biz that such requirements make little sense either culturally or as a matter of economic policy.

Guillaume de Fondaumiere (left), who is also an exec with Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream, spoke to gi.biz at the recent GameHorizon conference:

The cultural test is a problem... When you look at [European Union] rules, you have to ask: 'Actually, what is culture?' It's a national decision, so it's kind of weird that we, as the videogame industry, have to work with standards that other cultural areas don't have to follow.

To me, all games are cultural. Videogames aren't just a form of entertainment, but a true form of cultural expression, and I think that in twenty years' time this will be a given. No one will dispute that any more...

We know that tax breaks are extremely effective in stimulating an industry, and I think again that Montreal and Quebec have shown us the way...

So I think it's high time for governments, and the EU, to understand that money given in the form of tax breaks to the industry is not money thrown away. It's an investment with a very high return, so it's time that we had those breaks.


Comments

Re: Basing Tax Breaks on Culture Test is Problematic, Says ...

I was never really sure what was meant by these rules either.  Do you have to show at least 1.6 French flags for every hour of gameplay, show the Eiffel Tower at least twice, everybody eats baguette, and you win the game by surrendering?  ;)  I realize that's just digging into stereotypes, but what else could they mean?  If being made in France doesn't make a game French, then what does?

Re: Basing Tax Breaks on Culture Test is Problematic, Says ...

For the film industry in the UK (thus making his comment about it only being the video games industry irrelevant) it means that a certain proportion of the films development must be done within the UK. It's graded on points with very few going towards characters nationality or setting (5 points out of a maximum of 30, 1 of those points is for filming it mostly in English). Most of the points in a single category are for nationality of the lead actor and if 50% or more is filmed in the UK at 3 points each. Not sure how many points are needed to qualify for tax breaks but it looks like as long as your not outsourcing all your work it shouldn't be too difficult.

http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/consultations/Culturaltestforfilm.pdf

I can't see something radically different for the games industry so it won't mean the next Rockstar game with have to be GTA: Liverpool with only British cars you can steal and a brit-pop soundtrack, though it may have a Michael Caine circa Get Carter lead...which would be ace!

Re: Basing Tax Breaks on Culture Test is Problematic, Says ...

Well you've got to mention the revolution and use a gullotine on nobles. Oh and riot when you want better pay, riot when you want more rights, riot when you want more baguettes and riot when you feel like it, along with rioting when you don't feel like it.

That's truly French, and I would play a game that copied their rioting habits in a heartbeat!

Seriously, who wouldn't want to play as an angry French citizen trying to do as much property damage as possible because the price of baguettes went up and their coffee was cold!

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