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Braben, Hasson sound industry warnings

Key UK industry figures have once again underlined the threat that countries such as Canada and Singapore are posing to the UK by offering subsidies of various kinds.

Key UK industry figures have once again underlined the threat that countries such as Canada and Singapore are posing to the UK by offering subsidies of various kinds.

David Braben, head of Frontier Developments, and Fred Hasson, outgoing CEO of developer body Tiga, spoke about their concerns at the launch of Games Eden, a business networking organisation established to help bring together companies in Cambridge and the east of England.

"We're now operating on a global stage, and there's so much we need to do," said Braben. "The industry itself is a really, really exciting industry. We're starting to see the first glimmers of the industry taking off as a new medium."

"[But] at the moment the medium is sneered at by a lot of people. You don't see Boris Johnson, or Tony Blair, or anybody of the current set up cosying up to us in the games industry.

"You see it with the film industry because it's respectable. We're not respectable and it's one of our jobs to get that respect."

He went on to talk specifically about the economic considerations of development, and particularly the threat that posed to UK companies.

"The East of England is a fantastic place to be based, and we're not going to move away any time soon, but there are things that we have to plan long-term, and I'm sure it's something that other people in the room are considering as well, and that's opening an office in North America, particularly Canada, because that's very attractive in terms of economies of scale."

Braben was followed on stage by Fred Hasson, who began by referring to a meeting that the two had attended with the government minister for Culture, Media and Sport, Margaret Hodge MP - who'd suggested at one point that perhaps Frontier should "go and set up in Canada," after the benefits on offer there had been discussed.

Hasson went on to point out that in 2000, when Tiga was founded, there were 300 developers in the UK, most of whom were independent - but as of this year that number had dropped to 150*, and only 12 of those were original founder members of the organisation.

The evening continued with Andy Serkis, of Lord of the Rings, King Kong and Heavenly Sword fame, who explained the development of performance capture and how it's built dramatic layers on to simple motion capture.

Frontier Developments is currently working on a next-gen title The Outsider (pictured).

*This is despite the overall level of employment in the sector going up, as pointed out by Mr Hasson in his speech.

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