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The European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) unanimously passed a resolution proposing to vote on whether or not the European Union should develop a long-term video game strategy. This legislation could fundamentally change the future of the video game and export industry on the continent.
CULT asks the wider European Parliament to increase the number of video game productions in Europe through increased funding. In 2022, the Creative Europe program allocated €6 million to fund video game productions, but CULT said this was insufficient.
It is not clear whether the EU will also consider tax breaks in exchange for companies setting up or expanding game companies in the territory. Other countries, such as Australia and Canada, do offer these incentives. However, it is clear that if the EU does not make itself more welcoming to game companies, those companies may look elsewhere for these incentives.
Similarly, CULT argued that the European games industry was chronically struggling with a talent shortage. They see this as particularly problematic because the games industry relies on innovation. To develop talent – both for the games industry and for Europe as a whole – the resolution urges that video games be explored as a learning tool.
On the economic front, COVID showed MEPs (MEPs) the value of the video game industry. It was the only one creative and cultural industry in Europe to grow during the crisis. This resilience and great potential for growth and innovation are why MEPs are calling for more government support and oversight of the sector. In an uncertain global economy, MEPs are turning to video games to increase jobs, GDP and the EU’s cultural footprint.
Video Games and Soft Power
The resolution supported several initiatives to preserve, highlight and promote European values, history and diversity. These included the creation of a European Video Game Observatory to provide coordinated data and recommendations to decision-makers, an archive to preserve the most culturally important games, and the creation of a ‘European Video Game’ label to help consumers to support game industry.
In addition, the resolution will have far-reaching implications for the esports industry.
Esports has struggled for years with whether or not to define itself as a sport. The resolution will settle the debate on the continent – esports will not be regulated as a sport by the EU. MEPs point to the digital component of esports and the underlying commercial importance of publishers as differentiators of sport. This is likely to benefit IP holders who retain more control over their esports products than if they were governed as a sport.
Despite this distinction, regulation is still on the way for the European esports industry. The resolution calls for the development of a framework that regulates the employment of professional players, calls for a new type of visa for professional players, and further efforts to combat doping and match-fixing.
This effort of the EU-Saudi Arabian $38 billion investment plan demonstrates that governments around the world recognize the economic, social and cultural value of the video game industry.
The entire European Parliament will vote on CULT’s resolution during the November mini-session (9-10 November).
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