Culture Minister speaks on the UK Video Game Industry

“Video games are as important to British culture as film”, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has claimed during a keynote speech at the Develop conference in Brighton.

Speaking to an audience of developers, publishers and investors, Vaizey, who has backed the games industry since becoming Shadow Culture Minister in 2006, also highlighted the success of video game tax credits, which were introduced last year, allowing studios based in the UK to claim relief on up to 25% of their production costs.

The minister was keen to emphasise the success of tax credits since their implementation in August 2014 after years of lobbying from the games industry. In the first full year, around 67 games qualified for tax relief, representing a total budget of over £180m and almost all of that money will be spent in the UK or Europe.

The tax breaks are helping projects go ahead that wouldn’t otherwise have happened, acting as a real draw in winning investment from overseas, and crucially are helping studios hire more staff for their next project

He also reeled off stats on the expanding audience for and the influence of video games in the UK:

  • There are now 33.5 million game players in the UK – 69% of 8-74 year olds
  • UK consumer spend on games was almost £4 billion in 2014, a 13% increase on 2013
  • The UK games industry contributed £1.4 billion in GVA, generated £429 million in tax receipts, and supported 23,900 full time jobs in 2013
  • The number of game companies has grown by a fifth every year since 2011 driven by the increasing popularity of mobile games.
  • 80% of new games companies every year being focused on mobile platforms

The minister also mentioned the Abertay University’s Prototype fund which has provided grants of up to £25,000 for small companies (based in the UK,) for the development of games or other forms of interactive digital content.  He also pointed out that Creative England, the screen agency that supports creative industries throughout the country, has invested £1m in 44 video game companies in 2014, creating 30 new games.

This is all positive news for the video games industry.
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