There’s a claim going around that Rockstar has inadvertently revealed Grand Theft Auto 6 through a public financial filing. And, to put it simply, that’s a massive leap – there’s nothing in the information we have to confirm that GTA6 is in active development (although, let’s be honest, it probably is). But what the numbers do reveal, however, is just how much money Rockstar doesn’t pay in tax as a result of the UK’s Video Games Tax Relief scheme.
Earlier this month, Rockstar submitted its financial year filing to Companies House, the UK company registry, and it included an interesting note in the section on “factors affecting tax charge for the period”… Okay, I might be outing myself as a nerd here by saying this is “interesting”. But it does say that in the 2018/2019 tax year, Rockstar claimed £37.6m in tax relief, almost double the £19.1m it claimed in the previous period.
Rockstar received the tax relief as part of the Video Games Tax Relief programme, which launched in 2014 and allows video game developers to claim a deduction if the game they’re making is British, is planned for general release, and at least 25% of the costs of making it are spent on goods and services provided in the European Economic Area.
Think tank TaxWatch points out in a report that this means Rockstar North has claimed a total of £80m since the scheme was launched, and says that “Of the 1,110 claims made since VGTR was launched, Rockstar have accounted for a quarter of all the relief claimed from the government with just two games.”
The government says in its own report that the £324 million it has paid out in tax relief since the scheme was launched in 2014 has led to £2.6 billion being spent in the UK.
TaxWatch also claims that says that Rockstar has, with its latest figures, outed the development of the next Grand Theft Auto, because the £37.6m claimed in the recent filing “relates to the production of the next edition of GTA”. TaxWatch says: “This is clear because the company has not registered any other games as being ‘Culturally British’, the pre-requisite required to qualify for the relief, since GTA V.”
But this isn’t the case. The problem with TaxWatch’s claim is that, as the scheme has only been around since 2014, we’ve only seen Rockstar make claims on two games – GTA V and Red Dead Redemption 2. The massive claim could be for a new GTA game, sure, but it could also be for a new Bully, or a new series altogether. It could also be for multiple projects.
And, on the claim that Rockstar hasn’t filed any other games as culturally British, Red Dead Redemption 2 is listed in the BFI’s database of games certified as British. It was added in February 2019 – which we’re pretty sure is some time after the launch of GTA V.
Rockstar has responded to TaxWatch’s claims in a statement, saying: “The UK’s program to support the growth of a broad range of creative industries through tax relief is a proven success. The program has directly resulted in Rockstar Games significantly increasing its investment in the UK, creating well over 1,000 highly skilled and long term jobs across London, Lincoln, Yorkshire and Scotland.
“This investment and the success of British video games supported by the program not only significantly contributes to the economy, and to UK tax receipts, but also helps solidify the UK’s position at the forefront of video game development well into the future,” a Rockstar spokesperson told VG247.
So, all we can take away from this filing is that Rockstar is spending a huge amount of money in development, we just don’t know of what, exactly. One thing we are sure of, though, is that this tax relief does not categorically confirm the existence of Grand Theft Auto 6. Sorry, guys. You’re gonna have to keep waiting for concrete news on that one.