Indie game dev welcomes tax relief cancellation

While the big UK gaming heavyweights such as TIGA and ELSPA are condemning George Osborne's decision to cancel video games tax relief, indie games developers in the UK appear to be indifferent to it.

British game dev Cliff Harris, who previously kicked up a storm when he asked for feedback from pirates, has even said that he's "pleased" about the decision to cancel games tax relief on his blog.

Harris previously worked as an AI programmer at Lionhead, where he worked on The Movies. He then went on to form Positech Games, developing titles such as Kudos and Gratuitous Space Battles.

Harris' main complaint about tax relief wasn't the money itself, but the bureaucracy involved in getting hold of it. The process, says Harris, would probably involve him "travelling, then debating and arguing, and hoping that some stuffy civil servant in a suit doesn't assume I’m some dodgy shyster just because I wear jeans and work from home."

Cynically, Harris adds that "I bet I’d never have earned a penny from it, although administering the system would doubtless have kept a few civil servants busy."

On the other hand, Harris reckons that the 1 per cent reduction in corporation tax for all businesses will be much more helpful to indie developers such as Positech games. This "just makes Positech Games one per cent more competitive automatically," he explains, "without any effort involved by anyone. It’s the smarter move."

Yesterday, TIGA CEO Richard Wilson said that the reduction in corporation tax was "welcome," but claimed that it "does not address the specific needs of the video games sector."

Unsurprisingly, Harris disagrees. "There is much gnashing of teeth by industry spokespeople," he says, adding: "I’m surprised anyone thought that a pre-election promise to cut taxes would be honoured by a different government."

Of course, Harris is in a slightly different boat to the big game developers represented by TIGA. The argument is that larger game developers need to pay the salaries needed for top programming and design talent, especially on graphically-rich games that require a lot of manpower to develop.

Without tax relief, it's argued that British developers can't compete with international developers who get tax relief from their countries. On the other hand, Harris' smaller PC games studio only has one employee – Harris. Even so, it's interesting to see that not every UK games developer is up in arms about the cancellation of the tax-relief plans.