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UK Interactive Entertainment CEO defends games as culture before EU tax investigation


Last week the European Commission announced it would kick off an "in-depth investigation" into proposed UK tax relief for video game developers, and UK Interactive Entertainment's Jo Twist wasn't too pleased by the news. This week the non-profit's CEO calls on the UK games industry to send a clear message to the European Commission, that games are culturally and economically relevant.

"[Games] generate culture, and are purveyors of culture in their own right," Twist writes. "They generate emotion and opinions, and the way they do that is through story, through experiences, and a huge diversity of innovative mechanics ... We have to show why there are not as many culturally British games being made as there could be and how the credit would help address this."

The UK games tax relief plan calls on developers to pass a "cultural test" before receiving financial aid, incentivizing games starring British lead characters, in British locations or made by a local British team. The EU Commission worries the tax relief could negatively impact competition.

"The market for developing video games is dynamic and commercially promising," said EU Commission VP of Competition Policy Joaquin Almunia. "It is not clear whether the taxpayer should be subsidizing this activity. Such subsidies could even distort competition."

Twist notes that the EU Commission investigated both the UK film tax credit and French video game tax system, both of which were eventually approved, setting a historical precedent to accept the UK's proposal. Further information on UKIE's defense can be found on its Facebook page.

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