EA calls for calm, clear thinking in UK tax debates

Just days after Bobby Kotick voiced his displeasure over the UK government'sdecision to cut tax relief for video game developers, EA has weighed in with its own thoughts on the controversial issue by calling for industry stakeholders to consider the bigger picture and avoid making decisions based on financial factors alone.

In an interview withGamesindustry.biz, EA's VP and GM for Northern Europe, Keith Ramsdale, said that while the absence of tax breaks in the UK is bound to cause some degree of turmoil, developers would do well accept UK's economic reality and consider the other benefits to developing abroad.

“I've seen the comments made by other executives in the industry, and we've been talking about that,” said Ramsdale. “I think that this industry, and the companies within the industry, need to be pragmatic on the issues that the government faces today. We're not going to suddenly be handed a great big tax relief bill when the government's facing the economic issues it is - I think that cuts to the chase on this.”

Ramsdale went on to express the importance of continuing to lobby for future tax breaks, but said that the industry must also consider the fact that there are similar economic situations going on throughout the globe and – perhaps more importantly – there are benefits to sticking it out in the UK and investing in its talent.

Asked if EA has reconsidered moving its sizable UK workforce elsewhere, Ramsdaleresponded, “I'd say it's a conversation that happens all the time. All the time. The fact of the matter is that you want to make the best game with the best talent - we have DICE in Sweden, and we all know Sweden isn't the cheapest place to be. We have Criterion in the UK, and that team just made the best Need for Speed game ever created, and sold the most units it ever has in the period up to and through Christmas. So to be honest it's much more about having the talent in the right place. It doesn't mean that we don't want to have those conversations about the right economic environment to work in - of course we do - but it's coupled with where the talent goes.”


Above: The "best Need for Speed game ever created" was made in the UK

The full interview, with further comments on the ins and outs of UK's video game development industry, is available for your light Friday reading atGamesindustry.biz.

Jan 5, 2011