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France To Subsidize Games As Art 48

Posted by Zonk
from the 50-percent-art-and-50-percent-business dept.
The New York Times is reporting on efforts by the French culture ministry to treat videogames as art. About time. This initiative will include giving tax breaks for game development, and national recognition of game developer achievements (like the arts award received by Shigeru Miyamoto this March). From the article: "With a total of roughly 100 video game companies, France, along with Britain, has long produced more video games than the rest of Europe combined, according to the market research firm Idate, of Montpellier, France. Of late, however, the French companies have been facing tough times. Infogrames has been struggling against high debt, and an American rival, Electronic Arts, bought 19 percent of Ubisoft's shares in 2004. And Vivendi Games earns most of its revenue from one best-selling game, World of Warcraft, said Laurent Michaud, head of the video games division at Idate. 'It is true that the French video game sector is fragile,' Mr. Michaud said. 'But this is true for companies in all markets due to the quick-changing nature of industry.'"
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France To Subsidize Games As Art

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  • Canada (Score:3, Informative)

    by HappySqurriel (1010623) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @04:57PM (#16774919)
    Currently Canada is offering a competition for independant developers as well:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM .20061108.wtelefilmm1107/BNStory/Technology/home [theglobeandmail.com]

    • by tb3 (313150)
      Yeah, I saw that in the paper this morning. I'd like to get in on it, but for the life of me, I can't come up with a game idea that has Canadian content. I don't think Donut Wars, Eh? would go over too well.
      • You play a guy named Gordy who goes dog sledding through lumber camps and picks up back bacon for health powerups? I think it's been done... or was I just really drunk.
    • by lilmouse (310335)
      I saw an interesting article about subsidies for computer games in Canada:

      http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/70/15 [escapistmagazine.com]

      The article points out that the companies in Canada that are getting the money (currently) are ones like Ubisoft - very large and able to move large numbers of jobs around... Money for independent gamers would be nice. But as things are set up, it makes more sense in some ways to give $$$$$$$(CD) to giant companies instead of the little guys - who I think make better games!

      We'll see what ha
  • by krell (896769) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @05:00PM (#16774975) Journal
    I could find no reference to any subsidy (word "subsidize" in news item title) in the article. However, I did find a tax break. A tax break should never be confused with a subsidy ("Monetary assistance granted by a government....") since no money is given by the government ($0 of government money spent). A tax break merely lets someone keep more of what they already own.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

      In economics, a subsidy is generally a monetary grant given by a government to lower the price faced by producers or consumers of a good, generally because it is considered to be in the public interest. The term subsidy may also refer to assistance granted by others, such as individuals or non-government institutions, although this is more commonly described as charity. A subsidy normally exemplifies the opposite of a tax, but can also be given using a reduction of the tax burden. These kinds

      • "....but can also be given using a reduction of the tax burden..."

        The inapplicably of the word "given" (when there is nothing given at all) shows that to be yet another poorly worded Wikipedia entry. After all, if a mugger takes only your wallet and nothing else he is not giving you your shoes and watch by the mere action of not taking them from you. Thanks for pointing out a Wikipedia mistake.
        • by MBraynard (653724)
          Ah - but since this is Wikipedia.... MISTAKE CORRECTED!
          • "Ah - but since this is Wikipedia.... MISTAKE CORRECTED!"

            Not yet. The header on the article still indicates the problem with it: "Some information in this article or section has not been verified and may not be reliable. Please check for any inaccuracies, and modify and cite sources as needed."
        • Subsidies [britannica.com] mentioned there also mention 'tax concessions' as a form of subsidy. Besides, economically there is minimal difference between me sending you a check for $1000 (tax free) and reducing the taxes you owe me by $1000.
        • by KiahZero (610862)
          On the other hand, if you have a contractual obligation to pay someone $100, and that person later decides to forgive your debt after you've only paid $60, it would be accurate to say that you've been given $40 - the result would be the same if they took the $100 you owed and gave you a gift of $40.

          Your mistake is in analogizing between the government (whom you have a legal and moral obligation to support) and a mugger, with whom you have no such relation.
  • by ConfusedSelfHating (1000521) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @05:03PM (#16775059)
    while you wield a baguette with a chainsaw attachment. Let the streets of Paris run red with the blood of existentialist zombies. May every mission in your tactical shooter involve a retreat. And don't forget your purse.
    • "while you wield a baguette with a chainsaw attachment. Let the streets of Paris run red with the blood of existentialist zombies. May every mission in your tactical shooter involve a retreat. And don't forget your purse"

      If that's the new "Frogger", let me know where to sign up for beta.
  • The government subsidies given to Airbus to keep it afloat have worked wonders.

    http://money.cnn.com/2006/11/07/news/companies/fed ex_order.reut/index.htm [cnn.com]

  • But not all video games would receive support. Funds would go only to those that have creative input from France and are deemed to have artistic merit.

    "Video game characters will not be required to wear a beret and carry a liter of wine under their arm," Mr. Donnedieu de Vabres said. "But we do need to protect what is different in video games produced by each nation."

    So there will be a government commitee deciding which games get nifty tax breaks and which don't. I am curious if the same is true for

    • by Amalas (949415)
      I am curious if the same is true for movies as well- is there a comittee in France that decides whether a movie is a cultural film or not?
      In the US, there is the National Film Registry [wikipedia.org] that already does this. Has this lead to more movies focused on being 'artsy'? Not really.
      • But this does not give tax breaks, so your point is moot. Empty titles (especially ones 10 years after the movie has been made) do next to nothing to promote certain films. Money does.
    • I've always assumed video game makers in France were receiving some kind of special treatment. If you actually look at French labor law, there's no way you could produce e.g. Splinter Cell* (developed in France) if you seriously kept every developer from being in the office more than 35 hours/week, having to keep incompetent employees on for two years, etc. So I figure they've got some loophole.

      *Did anyone catch how in the original Splinter Cell, your boss urges you to collect more evidence because "If we
      • by Justus (18814)

        Splinter Cell* (developed in France)

        Actually, according to the Wikipedia article (far from exhaustive, I know, but with the recent release of Splinter Cell 4 I'm not about to start sifting through Google for it), the original Splinter Cell was developed by Ubisoft Montreal. French Canada, yes, but not France.

        *Did anyone catch how in the original Splinter Cell, your boss urges you to collect more evidence because "If we're going to go to war over this, the evidence needs to be SOLID" ? Yes, France, we get

    • by denidoom (865832) *
      That's like product placement, where the governmental cultural accoutrements are the products... ugh. I like the idea of artsy games, though.
  • Confluence of First Person Shooters, RPG, and Jerry Lewis. Just.... great.
  • So does this meen that ubisoft will be making even MORE games for the Wii? we already have around 10 launch titles from them, don't we?

    either way, it is sorta interesting, is this taxbreak also avaliable to things like movie studios and tv?
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @05:21PM (#16775395) Homepage Journal
    ..will be the Nintendo Oui.
  • Another government bailout for Infogrames France (owner of Atari)?! I know making bad video games is an art in itself, but its nothing that any government should be supporting.
  • by snuf23 (182335) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @07:56PM (#16777703)
    Suck it, Ebert.
  • It seems the current game industry business model is starting to break down. All they talk about are how publishers are struggling. Why give publishers a tax break when you can get all the really artistic games a push directly by subsidizing studios themselves? Fuck the publishers altogether--the vast majority of people who have a computer have the internet. The internet is the new publisher.

    Subsidizing publishers is encouraging their mindless hunt for mass appeal--which has nothing to do with creativity.

  • My memory of the media/public response at the time is rather spotty, but I don't feel that the U.S.'s decision to invade Iraq was really questioned until a reasonable amount of time after it had occurred.

    The U.S.'s decision to invade Iraq was critised from the day it was made, sometime around 20jan2001.
  • by krell (896769)
    "Welcome to society, please share the upkeep costs with your fellow citizens."

    1) When you are robbed, it is not "sharing"

    2) We are already "sharing" quite a lot in this fashion.
  • by krell (896769)
    "Perhaps the US tax system would be fine too if you didn't spend half the budget on "Defense" and spent more on healthcare, jobs, etc."

    OK. Let's say we reduce defense spending from 50% of the budget to 19%. Would that solve it? Oh wait, it's already that low: "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_the_Unit ed_States" [slashdot.org]
  • My mistake. Evidently I saw the 50% figure somewhere else, but it was referring to the "discretionary funding" (i.e. money that is free for the govt. to choose to allocate as they decide). It's still obscene, and how it can be condoned and continued by Christians is beyond me (speaking as a Christian).

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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