The UK is launching a brand new programme to help promote and recognise Great Britain's contribution to the games industry, with the aim of making London "the games capital of the world."
Brought about by a collaboration between Ukie and Film London, the new venture will also receive funding of £1.2 million from the London Enterprise Panel and receive support from the London Mayor's Office. Over the course of three years, Games London hopes to encourage investment in the capital's industry and promote the use of the country's video game tax relief initiative, with the eventual aim of adding £10 million to the revenues of London's games developers. The initiative is being headed up by Michael French, with Andy Payne sitting as the organisation's chair.
"Through Games London we are supercharging an increasingly important sector for our economy, one that exemplifies the capital's reputation for creativity and innovation"
London Mayor Boris Johnson
"London is already a star player when it comes to games and interactive entertainment, but international competition is fierce and we need to ensure our city can compete with our global gaming rivals," said London Mayor Boris Johnson. "Through Games London we are supercharging an increasingly important sector for our economy, one that exemplifies the capital's reputation for creativity and innovation. From design to banking and civil engineering to film, games technology is being used in a host of different sectors. We are investing in a dynamic and constantly evolving industry to take London to another level as a world-leading capital for games and interactive entertainment."
Central to Games London is the London Games Festival, which will this year take place between April 1 and 10. As part of 15 events held at ten locations around the capital the festival will include Now Play This - a weekend long exhibition of games at Somerset House from April 1-3 - and the Games Finance Market, an investment-focused opportunity which will adopt a successful formula from the capital's Film Festival by marrying investment cash to projects. Furthering the links to London's film industry will be a series of talks held at the BFI on April 4. In addition, the Festival will also include pre-existing highlights on the London industry's calendar, including Gamer Network's EGX Rezzed.
Rezzed will occupy London's Tobacco Dock from April 7-9, putting many of the nation's most innovative gaming projects in the hands of thousands of its biggest gamers. As well as helping developers by making unreleased projects playable by the general public, Rezzed also features several in-depth public presentations and a dedicated careers advice area. Held in partnership with BAFTA, Rezzed's venue will also play host to BAFTA's prestigious games awards evening, a star-studded opportunity to celebrate the very best games and the most accomplished industry figures.
"We're delighted to return with London's biggest games show at the heart of London Games Festival," said show organiser David Lilley. "EGX Rezzed just proves what the UK videogames industry is capable of - creativity, brilliance and enthusiasm to meet gamers. EGX Rezzed is a mix of UK games culture. Under one roof you can find big console product alongside tiny indie projects, next to board games, next to the very latest in VR, next to a career fair and education section - all wrapped up with the BAFTA Games Awards. A lovely mix."
"Under one roof you can find big console product alongside tiny indie projects, next to board games, next to the very latest in VR, next to a career fair and education section - all wrapped up with the BAFTA Games Awards. A lovely mix"
Gamer Events MD David Lilley
"BAFTA is passionate about celebrating and promoting creative excellence in the art forms of the moving image, across film, TV and games," added Harvey Elliott, Chair of the BAFTA Games Committee. "Our annual BAFTA Games Awards are very much a highlight of the achievements of the games industry, but that activity alone cannot showcase everything that the industry does. Games London allows us to further show the reach of the games industry within the UK and will help highlight the amazing creative talent that is thriving here.
"Outside of our awards program we will be running a showcase within Rezzed of the up-and-coming UK talent and games from the next generation of developers, and continue to support the creative industry through other programs such as BAFTA Young Game Designers which provides a platform to showcase the young game creators already forming through our schools, and BAFTA Crew for the rising talent who have taken their first few steps into the industry.
"Our role is to help show how the talent based here in the UK has impacted the games industry on a global stage, and highlight the reach and depth of the experiences that have been created on our shores. We have already been working to make the BAFTA Games Awards as accessible as possible including releasing a significant number of tickets for sale to the general public, and we will also be working with Games London to showcase the games industry within the broader UK industries and to global partners from overseas, reinforcing the talent and expertise that the UK has to offer."
Some of London's most prominent developers have also welcomed the news, giving their support to the celebrations. Miles Jacobson of SEGA's Sports Interactive was full of praise for the plans, pointing out that the event's positive ramifications will be felt well beyond the boundaries of the capital.
"There aren't many industries that the UK still sits at the top table for and I think it's great we're embracing and supporting it's growth"
Dan Gray, Studio Head, USTWO
"It's fantastic that the Greater London Authority have got behind the London Games Festival, a series of events that will benefit the whole video games sector in the UK," said Jacobson. "With a new B2B finance matchmaking event, lots of public facing events to show how great Britain is at making games, and a tie in with the award to win as a developer - even my Mum has heard of in the BAFTA games awards - it's going to really put the UK games industry in the spotlight, plus hopefully create lots of business opportunities and jobs for UK PLC."
Dan Gray, recently promoted to studio head at Monument Valley developer USTWO also praised the move and city's developers.
"It's hard to look past London for a place to do business in the games industry. It's the perfect bridge between the markets of Europe and North America, but it's also a hotbed of creative talent and an excellent top tier city to to attract overseas professionals to.
"There aren't many industries that the UK still sits at the top table for and I think it's great we're embracing and supporting its growth."