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Lionhead's Molyneux 'Frustrated' With Lack Of UK Tax Breaks, Industry Respect

Lionhead's Peter Molyneux (Black & White, Fable III) says that the lack of recognition for video games as a creative medium -- and the correlated lack of tax breaks for UK game developers -- "is just crazy."
Lionhead Studios founder Peter Molyneux says he's "frustrated" with the UK government's lack of respect for the creative power of the video game industry, and that tax breaks for game developers would help address it. "I’ve been saying this for years; it is just crazy that the British government does not recognise the games industry as a creative industry in the way it recognises others," Molyneux told the UK Telegraph. Game developers in the UK have been aggressively lobbying the government for some time now for tax breaks, after the region lost third place to Canada -- then fourth place to South Korea, which also offers tax breaks for developers -- among the world's largest game industries. Tax breaks would also create or protect some 3,550 graduate level jobs and £457 million ($750 million), and would pay back its own cost in tax receipts over five years, according to UK trade body TIGA. "There are very simple things that Canada does that they’ve proven are financially sensible, that Britain could do to encourage people to use them as a creative centre," Molyneux told the Telegraph. "Because the British are very creative people, and it’s frustrating that we don’t get that." UK chancellor Alistair Darling did not include tax breaks for game developers in his December pre-budget report -- despite the fact that the game industry contributes more money to the UK economy than the film industry, which does receive Treasury aid. "It’s very frustrating that there are a lot of Governments in the world that focus on the negative side of computer games," said Molyneux. "They just look at one or two titles and think that’s representative of what computer games are. And that just drives me mad, because I could look at films like Saw and say ‘oh, that’s what the film industry is all about’. But I’m never going to, as it’s so narrow-minded." Molyneux did cite the ongoing dialog with the government as a positive sign -- according to the report, Britain's House of Lords recommended the chancellor reconsider his position on the tax breaks, for example. And the UK development community is still vibrant, he adds, with many independent developers springing up to pursue new platforms like iPhone, Facebook and console download. "The UK has a great heritage of invention and creativity, it’s just the rest of the world have a great heritage of recognizing that properly, and it frustrates the hell out of me," Molyneux said.

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