Arberth Studios Holding Page

This is, the home site for the creators of the PC adventure game 'Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches'.

This website has been shut down in response to, and partly in protest at a ruling by the European Union (EU) which massively complicates the tax issues surrounding game downloads from companies such as Arberth Studios, based in EU member countries.

There is no doubt that their ruling serves the interests of the EU's bureaucrats, as it will make more work for tax officers in several EU states. However, the outrageous parallel increase in work for the game creators to meet new, bureaucratic demands for unnecessary and overcomplicated tax returns, means that it is no longer commercially viable for us to offer game downloads from this site.

The EU was warned that this scheme might backfire. Arberth Studios is one of those small independent game developers falling victim to that backfire.

Part of the bitter irony of this is that the ruling forces us to withdraw from sale completely the Italian, French, and German language versions of 'Rhiannon', which were available only by download. The EU has clumsily made it hugely difficult for small operators to start a download business in Europe. The new regulation is anti-business, anti-gamer, anti-creative and pro-bureaucrat. It is a disgrace.

A further irony is that while the EU's actions have forced 'Rhiannon' out of its European homeland of Wales, the English-language download version of 'Rhiannon' continues to be available across the Atlantic from our US partners Big Fish Games (, and through the 'Steam' channel of our Canadian publisher Meridian 4 (

The EU's ruling is atrociously badly designed. It stipulates that Europe-based download suppliers must know the national location of any customer downloading the game - which of course may be impossible to discover - along with the prevailing tax rates of that country. In other words, it may even be impossible to comply with the regulation, which is a clear sign of idiocy on the part of the regulations' designers.

In any case, the ruling was always unnecessary - there were other ways of stopping non-European retailers from exploiting variances in EU tax rates. But being the EU, the solution they chose may probably be the one that creates the greater number of tax-collector jobs. Actions such as these call into question the initial purpose of the EU, which was to create a free, international market for commerce, rather than the business-strangling job-creation scheme for bureaucrats that it clearly has become.

December 29, 2014