Ireland woos industry with new games incentive packages
Irish PM launches business review; Games Ireland says country will be "best place to develop games by 2016"
Ireland's prime minister Enda Kenny has today announced plans to attract more games development to the country using flexible incentive packages.
Games Ireland, a newly formed trade body representing the industry in Ireland, supports the move, which it hopes will change the culture of games development in the country.
"All the biggest brands in the world are almost here now," Games Ireland's communications director Paul Hayes told GamesIndustry.biz.
"We just need to change the narrative and the types of projects they're doing. A lot of them are here in a support function."
A government report published yesterday by Forfás outlined the areas that the government is willing to look at in terms of the incentives, which include tax based incentives, and R&D and project grants.
We'll take the best that we can from the Korean or the French or the Canadian experience, and just try and add what we can.
Paul Hayes, Games Ireland
Hayes explained that these packages would be fluid, and dependant on the needs of each company.
"The industry is evolving so fast that we kind of have to stay flexible in terms of the package of incentives that might work, and almost individually tailor them," he said.
"We'll take the best that we can from the Korean or the French or the Canadian experience, and just try and add what we can. I think as a country we've been pretty good at that and this is the first time that we've really focussed on games with a bit of a laser beam."
Representatives from some of the industries biggest companies were in attendance in Dublin for the launch, including SCEE, Microsoft, Nintendo, Activision Blizzard and EA, all as guests of Game Ireland. Hayes said their input will be vital to the government's plans.
"The video game industry is the most dynamic player in today's entertainment industry. Its unique mixture of creativity, technology, interactivity and fun gives it a head start on the competition," added Games Ireland CEO David Sweeney in an official statement.
"Ireland's rich reservoir of talent, technique and tenacity mean that it is now perfectly placed to play a leading role in Europe's video game industry, The Forfas report is a clear signpost for the kind of Games Incentive Package that Ireland will develop and offer to the fast changing industry to become the best place to develop games by 2016."
Games Ireland itself is only a few months old, but hopes to be able to support those plans by offering exactly what the industry is looking for.
"We're impressed by what TIGA and UKIE and everyone have done," said Hayes.
"We're pretty much going to see what the games industry needs over the next 18 months and then try and deliver that for them in one place."
Games Ireland already counts Activision, BigFish, Popcap, Havok and Demonware among its members.
"We've just come together in the last few months and put the membership together, because there's only about two and a half thousand people employed in Ireland in the games industry, but we're hoping to change that fairly dramatically over the next few years."
The Forfas report identifies six key opportunities for Ireland:
- Developing an international cluster - stimulating connectedness between related sectors, nationally and internationally.
- Enhancing skills and experience - addressing short term needs and building a continuous feed-stock of creative, technological and commercial capabilities.
- Accelerating growth in creative content development - attracting and developing the talent pool - creating the dynamic environment.
- Building international visibility - raising Ireland's visibility as a vibrant location for the games sector.
- Driving R&D and innovation - incentivising innovation within Irish based firms, anticipating future needs.
- Delivering next generation broadband - underpinning future growth with the provision of widely available, competitively priced advanced broadband services to homes and businesses.
With the global games industry expected to grow to £82.4 billion, the report also suggests that Ireland can double its employment in core games to 4500 people by 2015 if action is taken.
"Games can also be a catalyst for growth in a host of other related activities in the digital economy including social networks, search engines, animation, film and video and e-learning," added Martin Shanahan, chief executive of Forfás
"Success for Ireland in the games sector, however, is not a given and will require a step-change in policy and decisive action. The digital economy, of which the games sector is a pioneering force, is different: the sheer pace of change within it, the confluence of creativity, technology and commercial acumen, the revolutionised business models and novel monetisation strategies, the integral role that the customer plays in innovation, and the shifting dynamics through partnerships, mergers and acquisitions.
It demands a more anticipatory, agile and responsive approach to meet its future needs. Effective implementation of the actions outlined in our report will provide companies with the right environment not just for the games sector but in the wider digital economy."