Could new British tax breaks mean a UK-based GTA?

There’s a test going on in Britain by Chancellor Alistair Darling, a test to see the success of a “culturally British” tax break on various forms of media, including game development. Basically, if a game, film, or other artistic medium qualifies as “culturally British,” it becomes eligible for a tax break on production costs. It would seem some would take this as a suggestion that Rockstar may set a Grand Theft Auto title in the UK.

While the criteria for the tax break haven’t been set in stone for the games industry, the Department of Culture has said it will have a similar model to the film industry’s currently-implemented model. That one is based on a points system, where a film must rack up at least 16 of 31 possible points to qualify.

Some criteria include:

a) Cultural Content (16 pts) – Determining whether the film’s narrative is set in the UK, whether its lead characters are British, whether the film is centred on British subject matter, and if the dialogue is recorded “in the English language”.
b) Cultural Contribution (4 pts) – Determining whether the film represents “a diverse British culture, British heritage or British creativity”.
c) Cultural Hubs (3 pts) – Determining whether the film is produced in the UK studios.
d) Cultural Practitioners (8 pts) – Determining whether the cast, crew and/or producers come from the EEA (European Economic Area), with points based on each role.

As it’s been estimated that Grand Theft Auto IV cost around $100 million to make, it doesn’t seem wholly unreasonable that they’d make a leap across the Atlantic (again) and save an estimated 16% of the total budget. Heck, it might even be an interesting change of pace for the series. But then again, one of te series’ staples has become that it’s one big jab at the absurdities of American culture. Would saving some money be enough incentive to shift that satirical focus? Only time will tell.

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