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TIGA rejects possible UKIE merger

UK trade associations to remain separate following failed unification talks

UK trade association TIGA has released a statement confirming that it has no plans to merge with fellow association UKIE, following talks in the past few weeks.

Calls for unification of the two bodies have been made in the past, most notably by Ed Vaizey MP, while at the launch of the Livingstone-Hope Review earlier this month a unified point of lobbying for government was suggested.

But while talks behind the scenes have been ongoing in the past month - instigated, understands by UKIE, the TIGA board has now released a statement clarifying its position.

"TIGA and its board would like to make it clear that we have no plans to merge with any other organisation," it read. "We do not see value in distracting ourselves with talks towards such an end while the games industry faces pressing matters including Games Tax Relief, R&D tax credits, improving access to finance, migration policy, education and skills and IP."

The statement went on to explain that TIGA would welcome UKIE as a member if it shared its "aims and supported our mission," but at the same time noted that "some other trade associations have been ambivalent at best" about Games Tax Relief - a thinly-veiled swipe aimed at its rival regarding its initial position to the DCMS on the subject in late 2009.

"While we do not consider it a priority that the UK games industry be represented by a single trade organisation, we appreciate the appetite some parties may have in this regard," the statement continued. "As far as we are concerned TIGA is that body, since it has transformed the industry's political profile and consistently provided exemplary leadership on the key issues facing the games industry in recent years.

"TIGA has increased the political influence of our sector not least by instigating the creation of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Computer and Video Games Industry. TIGA has decisively improved the profile of our industry in the mainstream media, generating positive stories about our sector on national television, radio and in the press."

The announcement is unlikely to come as a surprise to many, given the divisions that have separated the two organisations in the past, but it had been hoped in some quarters that with the changing nature of the business - with an increasing amount of developers taking on publishing responsibilities themselves - that now would be a good time for change.

The divisions between the two go back many years, when ELSPA (which became UKIE last year) represented only publishers; TIGA was formed in 2001 in order to create a support structure for the development companies that until that point didn't have representation.

But with ELSPA's transition to UKIE - along with an expanded remit to represent the whole videogames sector rather than just publishers - a blurring of the lines occurred.

Both organisations have had political successes in the past year, with TIGA succeeding in persuading the former Labour government to add games tax breaks to the Budget Statement, while ELSPA/UKIE saw its own PEGI ratings system adopted in the Digital Economy Act.

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Phil Elliott