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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The video game industry has become one of the fastest growing sectors in entertainment, worth billions of dollars. The French buy more video games than everybody else other than the U.S., Britain and Japan. France’s government is trying to cultivate the video game industry with tax breaks.
From Paris, reporter Daniel Finnan has more.
DANIEL FINNAN: More than 120,000 people visited Paris’s first computer Games Week at the end of October. Los Angeles, Cologne and Tokyo host similar events. And France does not want to fall behind its international competitors in this lucrative field. But trades unions say it just might though not for lack of talent
STEPHANE NATKIN: In France we have between 5,000 to 7,000 people which are producing games.
Stephane Natkin is the founder of the French National School of Games and Interactive Media.
NATKIN: I think everybody even the political on both sides, right and left, know that games are something which is very important which they have to support.
The French government gives 20 percent tax relief on games produced by French studios. But many firms in the industry say taxes are too high. John Parkes is the Managing Director of France’s biggest video game developer Ubisoft. He says a 20 percent tax incentive isn’t enough to keep French game developers in the country.
JOHN PARKES: In Canada it can be anything up to 50 percent.
Ubisoft employs more than 6,000 people worldwide and produces games such as the popular Assassins Creed series. Parkes says it needs tax breaks so it can pay the top class games programmers it needs to stay competitive and innovative.
PARKES: Innovation means you need the best people with the best ideas, the best quality in developing your games.
It’s not certain that Parkes and his colleagues will get the expanded tax breaks they’re looking for. But the video game industry has some important supporters here. President Nicholas Sarkozy has described it as a strategic growth area for France and one with the potential to become a major art form in the 21st century.
In Paris, I’m Daniel Finnan for Marketplace.