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Dundee game developer warns industry needs government help

A Dundee-based computer games developer is warning that Scotland's multi-million pound computer games industry will be in serious trouble within two years if it does not get government help.

A Dundee-based computer games developer is warning that Scotland's multi-million pound computer games industry will be in serious trouble within two years if it does not get government help.

British companies pay tax on research and game development, while international companies do not, and they say that is holding them back.  

Realtime Worlds is joining dozens of other companies who are heading to Westminster to appeal for support before thousands of jobs are lost.

In a former Student's Union bar off Dundee city centre, more than 200 people are spending tens of millions of pounds, the cost of creating an international standard Computer Game.

Their XBOX 360 release, Crackdown, sold one and a half million copies around the world. It also won a clutch of awards including Baftas.

Now they are doing it all over again with a new title, APB. It has been five years in development and is due to be released this year.

It is expected to be another huge hit, but the company is still worried about the future:

Colin Macdonald from Realtime Worlds said: "So far, we're doing really well, we're worried about the future in two year's, or five year's time. I mean the industry's doing really well at the moment, but we've dropped down to fourth place in the world in terms of games development, and we're going to drop down further if the government doesn't do something to help us".

Games Makers think of themselves as heroes against the credit crunch.

Their industry is expanding - supporting 28,000 jobs, and pumping around £1 billion into the UK economy.

But they claim they are jumping hurdles to keep up with the rest of the world. Cost is one of them, with games having budgets rivalling movies.

British firms are paying tax on research and development, while governments like Canada and France are giving rebates.

That has led to a brain drain of talent, lured by overseas firms with more money to spend on bigger projects.

British companies say they need an international level playing field.

Colin Macdonald said: "Canada offers up to about 40% tax incentive for companies setting up there, and it's brought about $1.5 billion worth of investment, so it works really well. I mean if you look at what the UK's produced, we've produced some of the world's most popular IP (intellectual property). Lemmings, Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider, Championship Manager, all these were made in the UK and we're going to get less and less of them if the industry keeps going into decline without government support".

Realtime is joining other companies within industry body Tiga for a meeting with the Treasury, scheduled to take place within the next couple of weeks.

But a series of economic announcements by the government means UK finances are already stretched, so an industry that is surviving the credit crunch fears it may well be turned away and may not be able to come back later.

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