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ELSPA and TIGA set to collide?

It's fair to say that for as long as anybody really cares to remember, the two trade associations looking after the UK videogames industry's interests haven't really seen eye-to-eye.

In the past couple of years - with ELSPA led by Michael Rawlinson and TIGA by Richard Wilson - the Cold War has thawed somewhat, with even some agreement on policies that united the two under the same banner... to a point.

But while politicians have been happy to suggest that the industry would be better served with a single spokesperson, and although both bodies have achieved certain political victories in the past year, changes in the wider business of games mean that maintaining the status quo might not be an option moving forwards.

Historically the division was straightforward - ELSPA was for publishers, while TIGA was for developers. As more and more independent developers were either swallowed up or fell apart, the balance of power swung inexorably towards the former; but the reason for the existence of both was still clear, and defensible.

As time goes on, however, the definition of 'developer' and 'publisher' has become more complex, with many of the former aspiring - and in some cases achieving - the status of the latter.

Financial imperatives (as developer members dwindled) have necessitated TIGA's broader approach, signing up educational or training institutions, tools companies and soon individual members too.

But with ELSPA set to rebrand to UKIE - removing all mention of "publisher" in its name in a bid to cover the entire industry - the relationship between the two organisations appears uncertain once again.

And with the University of Abertay Dundee, previously aligned to TIGA but now also joining UKIE, we're seeing a clear shot across the bows.

As the UK's development scene slips down the global rankings - fourth now behind Canada, but with some leading industry figures claiming further slippage likely - the industry may have to face up to a choice: UKIE or TIGA? Both may not be feasible for much longer.

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Phil Elliott

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