Graphic supplied by The Accountancy Partnership
If you ask the man or woman in the street where they think most videogames are made, the likely answers you will receive are Japan or America. This is hardly surprising, of course, because a lot of games are set in America, and voiced by American actors, whereas Japan is a country internationally renowned for celebrating its videogames industry. So why isn’t Britain like this? Britain has a magnificent videogame history and a present day industry clout to be proud of yet, in relative terms, we hear very little about it.
I think the mainstream media could do a lot to remedy this. A lot of noise is made about British movies or pop-stars that achieve international acclaim but very little noise is made about British games. Granted, movies and pop music tend to feature celebrities and this will always carry more weight in the tabloids, but sales figures would suggest that a lot of the same people who are buying Adele albums and watching James Bond movies are also playing Batman: Arkham City and Arkham City made more on its first week than either Adele’s 21 or Quantum of Solace. Ok, so the Sun are never going to get a shot of Batman, Sackboy or Nico Belick falling drunkenly out of a limousine and into a trendy London bar but the success of Arkham City, Little Big Planet and Grand Theft Auto certainly deserves more than cursory mention.
The government actually helped the games industry at the last budget by offering tax breaks for the entertainment industry and videogame development falls under this blanket term. That said, the government could also be doing more to publicise the industry in this country. Consider the fact that, due to these tax breaks, it is now a lot easier for small businesses to develop games in this country. Now consider the fact that billion dollar games producers like Rockstar formed, grew and are still based in this country. You would think that the government would be keen to publicise the fact that Rockstar’s success would be easier to replicate than ever before, right? Wrong. Instead we simply had David Cameron bleating about how creative people should use these tax breaks to make more films like The King’s Speech.
The most recent slap in the face to the British games industry came from Rockstar’s home country of Scotland. Last month a “Creative Scotland” report on behalf of the Scottish government valued the Scottish games industry as being worth nothing, £0, nought. The report was flawed because of a number of criteria within the report did not apply to the games industry and effectively ruled out its contribution. You would think someone would have spotted the flaw though. You would think that someone would have said “Hold on a minute, wasn’t that Grand Theft Auto thingy made here? Didn’t it make over $1 billion worldwide? Isn’t that a really good thing we should be shouting about?” Then again, maybe nobody knew because, outside of those of us who read the games press, who really does?