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UK games tax breaks cultural test guidelines published

Developers will need to meet certain criteria to be eligible for tax production credits

The British Film Institute (BFI) has published draft guidelines on the cultural test game developers will be required to pass in order to be eligible to claim tax production credits in the UK.

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Last week the European Commission gave final approval of measures to introduce games tax relief policies in the UK, bringing an end to a lobbying campaign that has lasted more than half a decade.

When enacted, the policy will allow game studios to receive discounts on production costs of up to 25 per cent, though the total benefit will be capped.

The certification unit at the BFI is now accepting draft online applications for video games under the cultural test. This is a points-based test comprising of four sections, where the project needs 16 of a possible 31 points to pass. Here's a breakdown:

Section A - Cultural content

  • A1: Set in the UK or an EEA state or (Up to 3 points will be awarded for set in an undetermined location) - Up to 4 Points
  • A2: Lead characters British or EEA citizens or residents (or characters from an undetermined location) - Up to 4 Points
  • A3: Video game based on British subject matter or relates to an EEA state or underlying material - 4 points
  • A4: Original dialogue recorded mainly in English language or one of six UK indigenous languages - Up to 4 Points

Section B - Cultural contribution

  • B: Video game represents/reflects British creativity, British heritage or diversity - Up to 4 Points

Section C - Cultural hubs

  • C1: At least 50% of the conceptual development or storyboarding or programming or design takes place in the UK - 2 points
  • C2: At least 50% of the music recording or audio production or voice recording takes place in the UK - 1 point

Section D - Personnel

  • D1: 1 of the 3 lead project leaders is an EEA citizen or resident - 1 point
  • D2: 1 of the 3 lead scriptwriters is an EEA citizen or resident - 1 point
  • D3: 1 of the 3 lead composers is an EEA citizen or resident - 1 point
  • D4: 1 of the 3 lead artists is an EEA citizen or resident - 1 point
  • D5: 1 of the 3 lead programmers is an EEA citizen or resident - 1 point
  • D6: 1 of the 3 lead designers is an EEA citizen or resident - 1 point
  • D7: At least 1 of the 7 key HoDs is an EEA citizen or resident - 1 point
  • D8: At least 50% of the development team are EEA citizens or residents - 1 point

BFI head of certification Anna Mansi will be in attendance at a series of Tax Break Roadshow events across the UK, which are being organised by games trade body UKIE. Three dates have been confirmed so far, with more to be announced soon.

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