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UK gaming demands tax breaks to halt brain drain

Britain must do more to protect its games industry if it wants to avoid key talent moving overseas, a new report from trade association Tiga claims.

Tiga, which represents the UK's independent computer game developers, has called for tax subsidies to stem a worrying brain drain.

"We used to be a net importer of brains," Jason Kingsley, chief executive of developer Rebellion, a Tiga member, told the BBC. "People used to come here to work in the games sector. Now people are thinking Canada's a good place to go to.

"Canada spends a lot of money marketing itself, positioning itself," he added.

Eighteen per cent of companies questioned by Tiga reported that employees had left to work abroad - and Britain is failing to attract foreign talent to these shores, with just 11 per cent of the games developers' staff coming from abroad.

Tiga CEO Richard Wilson says developers are being attracted to work in countries like Canada because of large government subsidies there for the industry..

"Independent research found that on average Canadian studios, because of the tax benefits they were getting, they were getting benefits worth 23 per cent of their turnover," Mr Wilson said.

"When it comes to trying to attract global investment, the US, Canada and France are at an advantage," Mr Wilson said.

Tax credits for UK developers were introduced in this year's budget, but are widely regarded as overly complicated.

Tiga's research also highlighted a trend towards self-publishing, with 47 per cent of indie developers now distributing their games via platforms such as Steam or the Apple App Store - and Apple's mobile platform overtaking the PC as the most-used platform by developers.

According to the research the games industry contributed £1bn to the UK economy last year.