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UKIE's Jo Twist - Part 2

On piracy, working with TIGA and how to combat boom-and-bust employment

Continuing on from where we left yesterday's discussion with UKIE's new CEO Jo Twist, we have part two of the same interview, in which the executive discusses combating piracy, complimenting the work of TIGA and how the UK can better manage the boom-and-bust nature of project-based employment.

GamesIndustry.bizI wanted to ask you a little bit about the revisions which SOPA has undergone recently and the industry's reaction to it. What do you see as the best way to deal with the issue of piracy? Is it better to incentivise legal downloads or to punish illegal activity?
Jo Twist

From a UKIE position, we're involved in lots of conversations about IP, and obviously we have the IP crime unit, which does an amazing job in tackling criminal activity around piracy.

GamesIndustry.bizMeaning mass production and distribution of material?
Jo Twist

Exactly. That's really important and they perform a really important role for our members. But it is a really, really sticky issue. We as a games industry have always been digital, we've always been much more agile than the music industry and the film industry, in terms of the way that the industry evolves in terms of its business models and the way in which we stay one step ahead.

I think that's an area which is really interesting, both personally and for UKIE: new business models and ways of making money, not just in terms of getting finance from games, but making money from your IP. We are far better placed as an industry to do that.

I think that's an area which is really interesting, both personally and for UKIE: new business models and ways of making money, not just in terms of getting finance from games, but making money from your IP.

I think the challenges that cloud gaming, and the move to digital generally, place in front of our members in regard to piracy and their IP protection is a great one and I will be making every effort to be part of those conversations that we're already part of, to listen to our members and find out what they want our position to be, what they need most.

Again, it's particularly the smaller developers. Mobile developers for instance - what do they want us to do as their industry body.

GamesIndustry.bizIt was interesting to see CD Projekt RED pull out of their campaign of legal letters to pirates last week after so many complaints from legitimate customers. It seems that there's just too steep a PR pay-off to pursue people in that way. An interesting conundrum.
Jo Twist

It's a very difficult area, it really is. I'm not really surprised by what's happened in the States [with SOPA] and I have been watching that with great interest.

GamesIndustry.bizThe reaction against the ESA, after it issued support for SOPA was very strong, with members threatening to leave or boycott E3 - do you think it's possible for a trade body to really ever have a completely unified position which represents its entire membership?
Jo Twist

I think, practically, you need to have a position. Again, it's a listening game for me. I need to meet as many of our members as possible and hear their opinions. We have a duty and responsibility as a trade body to be in the discussions with the other trade associations that are representing other parts of the creative industries - they have very strong opinions.

It's a very difficult one. Probably one of the ones that will keep me awake at night!

GamesIndustry.bizI wanted to ask, and I don't mean to cover old ground here, about the possibility of collaborative work between you and TIGA in the future. Is that something you'd be open to?
Jo Twist

I am really keen to collaborate with anyone and everyone. I am a very very collaborative person. I want to keep those dialogues going and to keep that conversation open. There are so many issues that we can't do everything.

We have a very strong leadership role in terms of skills and education, IP and expanding what interactive entertainment actually means in the 21st century - as well as expanding our membership - trying to do the best for our existing developers and publishers but also working out what young indie developers need from us.

I think TIGA has an offering - its five point plan showed us that we can offer complimentary services. It gives more reasons, and a need, to actually join both organisations. Ultimately we're here for the industry as a whole, including those who aren't our members. What we want is what's best for the UK games industry and interactive entertainment as a whole.

It doesn't make sense to replicate some services, but it makes sense to compliment them. It makes sense to have a unified voice when we're both calling for tax breaks and pushing that agenda, making sure that the Government knows what our priorities are. I think we share that same common ground and we should be speaking with one voice.

Ultimately we're here for the industry as a whole, including those who aren't our members.

GamesIndustry.bizThe traditional distinction was obviously that you represented the publishers whilst TIGA was more developer focused. That line, both in terms of your memberships and the fact that self-publishing has become such a growth area, has become less and less distinct. Do you still see that distinction as being what separates your two bodies?
Jo Twist

Not at all, no. We're here for everyone, even more so from the perspective that I am coming from. I'm very keen, given my background, that we really interrogate what we mean by interactive entertainment - there are so many opportunities to bring in other companies and members that can really enrich what we're doing in the games industry and vice versa.

So really that distinction is irrelevant to me, but it's important that we're making sure that we're serving both, or more than two camps. That we're still giving as many benefits and services as possible that our publishers need, but really understanding the needs of both indie and publisher-owned developers.

Different members need different things from us, so we're keen to offer that suite of benefits to everyone - but that distinction is irrelevant.

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