Thanks to an article from the Telegraph the Internet is buzzing with the news that Activision has “threatened” to leave the UK due to the removal of a promised tax break. The Telegraph reports that Robert Kotick the CEO of Activision Blizzard has called the removal of the tax incentives a “terrible mistake” as “There are so many other places that are encouraging the video games industry.”
The article in question also has a headline stating:
Activision Blizzard, the world’s biggest publisher of video games, has described Britain’s move to scrap tax relief for the industry a “terrible mistake” and refused to rule out moving its UK operations elsewhere.
Despite the headline, there is no direct quote or even a comment from Robert Kotick where he states that Activision is actively considering leaving the UK. While talking about incentives offered elsewhere implies that Activision is looking for a better deal elsewhere, it is hardly the same as threatening to leave. For example in another context I may look for a job with shorter hours and better money but that doesn’t instantly mean that I have threatened to leave my current job.
There are a few things that strike me as odd about this “threat” and the article in The Telegraph in general. The first is the timing, the tax break was scrapped back in June 2010 so why the sudden interest in it again now some 6 months later? Also when reading the article from the Telegraph I was struck with a sense of déjà vu and then I found this article in the Financial Times where after the tax break was initially scrapped Robert Kotick was quoted as saying
“For us to continue to invest in the UK there needs to be an incentive provided for us to do so”
I would be curious to find out when Robert Kotick made his comments and the apparent threat to the Telegraph as to me it seems that little has actually changed since the comments made in the Financial Times almost 6 months before.
Whether Activision will eventually leave or not is pure speculation at the moment, we should all remember that and take news reports like this one with a grain of salt.