UK development sector 'could become a dead man walking'

UK development sector 'could become a dead man walking'
Michael French

By Michael French

May 27th 2008 at 9:42AM

Government must act immediately, say Games Up? organisers as campaign goes public

The recently-revealed Games Up? campaign has been officially unveiled this morning, with a warning that 'UK games studios face decline' as 'runaway industry growth will increasingly move offshore'.

Revealed at the weekend in a piece on the Mail on Sunday, the Games Up? campaign is a unified and organised attempt by the UK games industry to successfully lobby Government for a games production tax credit and better higher education.

Backed by UK trade associations Tiga and ELSPA, and a number of leading UK games companies, the move is designed to "warn government that the UK’s world-leading studios face decline despite the boom in the £18 billion games software market".

Games Up? will "raise the profile of the industry in Parliament and the media, and promote ways the industry and government can work together to create new opportunities for UK games. At stake are thousands of high value, ‘knowledge economy’ jobs and hundreds of millions of pounds in investment in UK games studios," says the official announcement, supplied to Develop this morning.

As part of the campaign, the organisers have put together a stack of facts about the strength of the UK games industry - to read them, click here.

The announcement adds: "Games are an increasingly important part of British life, with 60 per cent of the UK population now playing games. Only 3 per cent of games sold last year were rated 18, and quiz and puzzle games are the most popular genre of games. A recent BBC survey found that young people under 15 claim gaming is their favourite entertainment. New, often British-made games have introduced education, fitness and social elements to gaming.

"Gaming is the future, and the growth of this almost £18 billion global industry is outpacing most other media. But for the past 25 years, the UK has been the third largest producer of computer and video games in the world, generating more than 14 billion pounds in global sales since the early 1980s. The sector employs more than 22,000 people, with 10,000 creative staff in studios spread across the UK.

"In 2006, the UK lost third position to Canada, where extensive, games-specific aid from government has created a world-beating industry from scratch in just 10 years. Canada’s growth outstrips the UK’s by 4:1. As a result an increasing number of UK companies have begun growing faster overseas than in the UK, some even relocating to subsidised territories like Canada. Recently, SCi / Eidos, the UK’s largest games publisher, announced that it would be moving production jobs to Quebec."

Richard Wilson, CEO of Tiga, added that if successful the Games Up campaign could convince UK parliamentarians to implement a tax credit for games production and spark further industry boom.

“With a 20 per cent production tax credit – like that approved by the EU and found in France – we could create many new, high value jobs, millions of pounds in new investment, and promote closer collaboration between industry and education. Without real measures to turn the tide, we’ll see our best people follow the money overseas to where governments are more willing to invest in the future. A great British industry could become a dead man walking, just like the British film industry before Government gave it a tax credit. We must act now if the UK games industry is to remain a global leader."