Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar Games has come under fire yet again for its questionable business practices.
Earlier this year, the studio and its various divisions courted controversy following accusations from current and former employees of a so-called office ‘crunch culture.’ Those testimonies largely dealt with the prolonged development of Red Dead Redemption 2 and ultimately prompted a rise in awareness of working conditions for those in the games industry.
That issue has since been swept under the rug, it seems, but now Rockstar is facing perhaps an even bigger PR nightmare. As per a report released by think tank group TaxWatch UK, Rockstar North – the Scotland-based studio responsible for Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt – hasn’t paid a single penny of corporation tax for over a decade. A startling revelation in itself, no doubt, but bear with us here – the rabbit hole goes much, much deeper.
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According to TaxWatch, Rockstar, despite dodging the taxman for 10 years, has continued to claim Video Game Tax Credits from the UK government for several years. For those not in the know, the aforementioned scheme was originally established with the purpose of helping small-scale institutions to fund games whose appeal would otherwise struggle to reach a global audience. For a company that posted an estimated total operating profit of $5 billion between 2013-2019, this clearly paints a picture of gross misuse. That it has reportedly declined to pay any corporation tax on top is damning, to say the least.
As if adding any more fuel to the fire was necessary, Rockstar declared a total pre-tax profit of £47.3m between 2013 and 2018. If that figure comes off as suspiciously small to your eyes; it is. Grand Theft Auto V, the most successful entertainment product of all time, has notched up total estimated sales of $6 billion since going on sale, and that’s just one title.
TaxWatch UK has since called on the UK government to investigate what, on paper, appears to be an abuse of taxpayer money. If you’ve got the time for a lengthy but fascinating read, find the full report via the link below.
Source: TaxWatch UK