Train2Game News UKIE on Spending Review

image

Chancellor George Osborne published the Comprehensive Spending Review today, setting out the government’s spending plans for the next three years.

Several announcements were made which are important for the UK games industry:

Apprenticeship Levy – a 0.5% levy will be applied to the payroll of all businesses with a wage bill above £3 million, and the money raised used to fund apprenticeships

Arts Council funding – the Arts Council will receive an increase in its budget. Ukie are already in discussion with the Arts Council about how they can give further support to games projects, and we will continue this conversation. Details on the additional funding are still forthcoming.

Innovate UK funding – overall funding provided to businesses by Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) will be kept at the same level. However, many of the grants currently offered will instead be offered as loans, reducing the cost to government.

DCMS budget – the operational budget of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will be reduced by 20%.

Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, responded to the CSR, saying:

“This spending review has many important announcements for the UK games industry. Getting the Apprenticeship Levy right in particular is crucial, and Ukie will continue to work closely with government and our partners across the creative industries to ensure it provides real benefits for the games industry. There have also been significant changes announced to the way that UKTI and Innovate UK will work, and additional funding for the Arts Council. We have a great relationship with these organisations and will continue to help them reach games sector companies who would benefit from their support. Our goal is to make sure the support government gives the games industry works for all parts of the industry, and our suggested actions are laid out in our Blueprint for Growth report.”

Train2Game News UKIE on 2015 budget

image

Today’s Budget was the first from the Chancellor of a majority Conservative government since 1996, and announcing a significant change in economic strategy with cuts to taxes and welfare and the introduction of a National Living Wage. You can read the full Budget speech and documents here.

With the Budget in March this year already having announced a £4 million Prototype Fund for the games industry, as well as further funding for the Skills Investment Fund, it is perhaps not surprising that today did not see any more direct announcements of support for games. However today’s announcements will still have an impact on all games companies.

Of most direct interest were the announcement on digital clusters. Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist said in response:  “We welcome the new support for regional digital economy clusters outside of London.  Ukie will submit ambitious proposals to government supported by a major piece of research to influence the long-term Spending Round expected in November this year to support growth right across UK.”

Innovation across the country

In our letter to the Chancellor, Ukie called for investment in games hubs across the country. The government has taken steps toward this by announcing that they will work with existing clusters to find and support strengths in science and innovation. The Budget announced that “the government will invite universities, LEPs, businesses and cities to work with central government to map strengths and identify potential areas of strategic focus for different regions through a series of science and innovation audits”. Proposals generated from these discussions will be funded through announcements in the Comprehensive Spending Review that will be held in the autumn.

As a first step, the Budget also announced that the government will invest £23m in 6 “Next Generation Digital Economy Centres” over 6 sites – London, Swansea, Newcastle, Nottingham, York and Bath. These will attract match funding from the private sector to “exploit opportunities across sectors of the digital economy including the creative industries, finance, healthcare and education.”

We will be working closely with government to make sure these announcements have the best possible outcome for the games industry, especially in the clusters identified in the NESTA report.

Changes to Enterprise Investment Schemes

The March Budget proposed changes to ‘tax-advantaged venture capital schemes’ including SEIS, EIS and VCTs, which many games companies make use of. Following a consultation, which they have today published the government response to, they have confirmed several changes including:

    A new £20 million cap on the total risk finance that can be raised by a company under EIS or VCTs

    An increase in the employee limit for ‘knowledge intensive’ companies to 500 employees

    A new digital process for companies and investors using SEIS, EIS and the Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) by the end of 2016

Business Environment

The Chancellor announced some major changes which will have an impact on all businesses in the UK, including:

    Corporation Tax will be reduced to 19% in 2017 then 18% in 2020 – keeping it the lowest in the G7, and a reduction from the 28% rate that the coalition government inherited in 2010.

    A new mandatory National Living Wage will be introduced. It will apply to the over-25s from April 2016, rising from £7.20 an hour then to over £9 an hour by 2020.

    The Employment Allowance will go up from £2,000 to £3,000, raising the amount businesses can pay employees before they incur National Insurance contributions

    Three million new apprenticeships will be created, partially funded by a new ‘Apprenticeships Levy’ on all large employers. This levy can be recovered by companies that spend money on training.

    From September 2017, families with 3 and 4 year old children will receive 30 hours of free childcare – twice the current amount.

Train2Game News Women in Games aiming to double females in industry

image

The women in games organisation, Women in Games WIGJ, announced today that its core objective is to double the number of women in games working in the UK and European Games Industry by 2025.

The organisation recently reviewed its strategy with a group of interested parties including representatives from several publishers and developers and has identified a layer of initiatives that will be revealed in the coming weeks and months to accelerate the movement towards this goal. WIGJ is already in discussion with a number of industry groups including Ukie and STEMNET and hopes to collaborate with as many other interested parties as possible to make this dream a reality.

The Women in Games WIGJ network is open to both women and men. WIGJ believes firmly that encouraging more talented girls and young women to consider a career in the games industry will not be at the expense of others. The games industry needs to hire the most talented, creative people to compete with other industries in tech and the media. The games industry in the UK and throughout Europe is generating many new jobs though tax breaks and the continued growth of new formats. The growth of the games sector will create additional opportunities for all.

Recently appointed CEO, Jenny Richards-Stewart commented, “More girls and women playing games mean more women are interested in working in the games industry but we should not assume that this will solve the current gender imbalance without the industry doing more to welcome a more diverse workforce. Intel working with the IGDA demonstrated in January a significant commitment to bring more women and other diverse talent to the tech and games industries.  We want more companies to step forward on issues of diversity and inspire the next generation of talent .The games industry in the UK and Europe is keen to do more and we are here to help. We want the games industry to get behind this goal. ”

Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, said “Women represent 52% of regular players in the UK, but they only make up a small proportion of the games industry workforce, far behind other creative sectors. We have a shared responsibility as an industry to take action to ensure a diversity of people are inspired into a career in our sector from a young age, and stay in the sector. We are doing that via our Digital Schoolhouse programme as well as through the Video Game Ambassador scheme, and we actively encourage a diverse range of people to put themselves up for Ukie Board election and to speak at events.”

To find out more visit http://www.womeningamesjobs.com/

Train2Game News Free Developer Workshops

image

Creative England announces FREE marketing workshops for South West and West Midlands SME games businesses, run in partnership with Ukie.

Creative England has joined forces with Ukie, the trade body that aims to support, grow and promote the UK’s games and interactive entertainment industry, to deliver a series of free marketing training workshops.

The workshops are open to SME games businesses based in the South West and the West Midlands and are fully subsidised by the Creative England GamesLab programme.

The courses, running in Bristol and Leamington Spa, will cover:

·         Marketing for games: What it does and how to use it to improve profits

·         Strategic marketing planning: A decision-making process for generating a strategic change perspective. What it is and how it relates to business planning

·         Marketing auditing: Macro, micro and internal analysis, key issue analysis and market segmentation

·         Marketing Communications: A solid grounding in the tools, techniques and approaches used in professional marcomms

·         Metrics: How to measure marketing and business performance including return on investment measurement.

Jaspal Sohal, Head of Games and Digital at Creative England said: “Creative England’s GamesLab programme seeks to discover and nurture our flourishing regional games industry. Through this partnership with Ukie we are able to provide these innovative developers with the necessary tools they need to get their games noticed in a competitive industry.”

CEO of Ukie, Dr Jo Twist said: “In our sector making a game is only half the battle. The other half is marketing and getting noticed in crowded marketplaces. It’s fantastic that these courses can be offered for free thanks to Creative England’s support. They will help give SMEs a better understanding of the kind of strategies they need. As we know, compared to other creative industries, we have strong clusters of games businesses right across the UK. The more courses and help that the GamesLab programme can offer outside London, the better.”

The courses will run on 24th March in Leamington Spa and 10th April in Bristol. If you are interested in attending, please check qualifying criteria and registration information on our website here:
http://ukie.org.uk/event/2015/03/24/marketing-workshop
http://ukie.org.uk/event/2015/04/10/marketing-workshop
The courses are funded by the European Regional Development Fund, supported by the Regional Growth Fund and led by Creative England.

Train2Game News UK video games market worth

image

Leading video games business publication MCV has revealed that the UK video games market generated £3.944bn of consumer spending in 2014.

Working in conjunction with trade body Ukie (UK interactive entertainment), MCV’s research compiles the amount spent across video games and related products – from downloads to consoles, licensed toys to mobile games.

The £3.944bn includes the spending on new boxed games, pre owned games, hardware and accessories, digital sales on all games formats plus merchandise, events, plus games-related books and magazines.

The number is 13 per cent higher than 2013’s figure, when the UK market reached £3.48bn.

This year’s data includes £1.048bn for digital console and PC content (based on IHS estimates), £915m on console hardware (Chart-Track figures), £106.8m on pre-owned software (Kantar Worldpanel) and £69m on toys (NPD figures). For the full breakdown, check out the attached infographic.

The best-selling video game soundtrack of 2014 was ‘The Music of Grand Theft Auto V’, the most popular video game-based movie was Need for Speed, while the best-selling video game-based book was Minecraft: The Official Construction Book.

“£3.944bn is the second-highest figure in games industry history and just narrowly misses out on eclipsing the £4bn generated in 2008 when Guitar Hero, Wii and DS ruled the charts,” said MCV editor Christopher Dring.

“Almost every sector of the market is in growth, and 2015 is set to be even better, with new blockbusters such as Uncharted, Zelda, Halo and Star Wars; highly anticipated new technologies such as Oculus Rift and Steam Machines, plus new business models around games subscriptions and streaming. It’s a good time to be involved in the video games business.”

Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist commented on the evaluation “It’s fantastic the see the consumer market thriving and growing. Impressive figures like these help reinforce the importance of our sector to policy makers and the media, strengthening our standing globally as a key market in the digital economy.”

The data was revealed to industry professionals at a behind-closed-doors presentation this morning, and will be the subject of tomorrow’s edition of MCV (Friday, February 13th).

Train2Game News GameBlast15

image

The gamers’ charity, SpecialEffect, is aiming to build on the success of its inaugural GameBlast gaming marathon weekend in 2014 by calling on the UK games industry and gaming community to sign up for GameBlast15 as they look to raise over £100k towards the charity’s work.

The event, the UK’s largest game-based fundraiser, takes place 20-22 February and already has some of the UK’s top games industry names behind it including Jagex, the company behind the hugely successful Runescape. Jagex is SpecialEffect’s original GameBlast partner and last year raised almost £50k for the charity’s work in helping people with disabilities to access video games.

Along with a major marathon stream from Jagex from Friday to Saturday, the UK gaming trade body, UKIE, is supporting the SpecialEffect fundraising effort by hosting GameBlast LIVE, a 24-hour gaming broadcast from its headquarters in London. This will run from Saturday to Sunday.

Dr Jo Twist, SpecialEffect Vice President and CEO of UKIE, explained why she is so keen to get behind the SpecialEffect fundraiser, ‘They [SpecialEffect] were one of the first groups I met when I started my Ukie role in 2012 and I was bowled over by their dedication, their passion and their love. The innovative work they do to enable young people enjoy the games they love is incredibly inspiring. Games and the ability to play can enhance and enrich people’s lives in so many ways and everyone should have the right to play.’

The event, hosted by Matt Cuttle, promises 24 hours of unadulterated gaming and madness as BBC Click presenter and SpecialEffect Vice President, Kate Russell, builds on the £7,500 she raised through her Elite:Dangerous livestream at Christmas by flying a 12 hour Elite marathon alongside other enthusiasts of Frontier’s iconic space travel game. But Kate will be taking a break from space travel to battle it out with Jo Twist using SpecialEffect eye-control technology as they compete live on Twitch for the fastest lap in Codemasters’ popular Dirt 3 motor racing game. 

Kate explained why she has done so much to raise money and awareness of the charity’s work, ‘Ever since I found out about Special Effect a couple of years ago – a charity dedicated to helping those with physical limitations through illness or injury have fun playing computer games – it has been my pleasure and honour to be able to help raise funds and awareness about their tireless and dedicated work’.

If you’d like to join industry names like Jagex, Gamer Network and Multiplay and join hundreds of other gamers across the UK in raising money for SpecialEffect through the GameBlast15 gaming marathon go to:

http://www.specialeffect.org.uk/gameblast-about

Train2Game News Video Game Mentoring Network Scheme

UKIE LogoAfter the success of the first cohort of the Video Game Mentoring Network scheme, which saw eight games businesses start the programme earlier this year, Ukie have once again partnered with Nesta to match businesses with experienced games industry mentors.

The scheme aims to advise and nurture games businesses with an appetite for growth and mentoring will officially start in December. Businesses who join the Games Mentoring Network will receive:

· One-to-one business mentoring in the form of 10 two-hour sessions over a 6-12 month period

· An induction workshop at the start of the programme to get the most out of your mentoring sessions

· Workshops and events designed to meet other members of the wider creative Network

· Coaching support – in addition to mentoring

Ukie and Nesta want businesses of all sizes to apply to be mentored, from start-ups who have been established for less than two years, to established and high growth potential business who are looking to scale. The minimum criteria for applying are simply that you must be a registered business that:

· Has made or sold a game in the UK in the last 12 months or have a game ready to bring to market in the next six months.

· Or you can also be a business that has launched a product or service in the UK that supports the creation and selling of games within the last 12 months.

· Being a Ukie member automatically qualifies you to apply.

Ukie CEO, Dr Jo Twist said: “Building on the success of the first wave of games mentoring, our partnership with Nesta will give even more games businesses an amazing opportunity to get first hand expert advice from people with proven track records in the games industry. Mentoring is invaluable for both mentees and for mentors and they learn a great deal from each other throughout the process.”

Ukie and Nesta are inviting games businesses to apply for mentoring by contacting mentoring@ukie.org.uk.

Train2Game News UKIE publish first mapping of the UK’s games industry

UKIE LogoThe true value of the UK games industry has been unlocked by big data, showing it may be double the size of previous estimates. A map of the UK games industry is published today by Nesta in partnership with Ukie to map the industry’s value, shape and size.

The research shows that there are 1,902 games businesses in the UK and the economic value of these could be as much as £1.72 billion – double the official estimates for 2011 and 2012.

For the first time the games industry has been measured using ‘big data’, not official SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) codes alone. The researchers combed online product directories like MobyGames and review sites like Metacritic and GameSpot to create a new list of games companies not previously measured because the official codes did not capture them.

Key findings in the report include:

· There are more companies making games for iOS platforms than any other – around half specialise in iOS games. A recent example of this is Fireproof Studios, who won the Apple 2012 iPad game of the year award and the BAFTA award for Best British game 2013 with their game ‘The Room’.

· There has been an explosion in the number of new games companies, with a 22 percent annual growth in the number of active companies between 2011 and 2013. This includes some already very successful companies like ‘CSR Racing’ developer Boss Alien and 22 Cans, a Guildford based start-up led by Peter Molyneux.

· There are 18 games industry clusters in the UK with a critical mass of games production activity, supported by more advanced broadband infrastructure and universities supplying games talent. This group is led by 12 games hubs with a particularly strong games presence: Brighton, Cambridge, Cardiff, Dundee, Edinburgh, Guildford and Aldershot, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Rotherham, and Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Jo Twist, Ukie CEO, said: “We know that the UK’s games sector is again becoming a real global success story and seeing Nesta’s estimates of there being over 1,900 games businesses in the UK, potentially generating £1.7bn in GVA, reinforces this more than ever. It’s great to see such a wide geographical reach, with games clusters now existing across Britain. We now need to build on these statistics to help support these clusters and encourage more investment and support for the sector, to make the UK truly the best place in the world to make and sell games. That is what our policy manifesto framework aims to achieve.”

Juan Mateos-Garcia, lead author of the research for Nesta, comments: “The big data approach that we used allowed us to get a real-time snapshot of the UK games sector, based on what companies do instead of what standard industrial classification they select when they get started. As many people – including the government – have suspected there is a big discrepancy between the official statistics and the actual size and shape of the UK games sector. This report should help address this data gap, allowing industry, policymakers, educators and investors to track the geography and evolution of the sector, and put in place smart actions to support it.”

Ukie Vice Chair and BIS Creative Industries Champion Ian Livingstone CBE said “As a sector, the video games industry is hugely diverse and fluid, with specialist talent working in clusters across the UK. This research shows where and why clusters of game development emerge in the UK, and the importance of access to finance, infrastructure and talent. It is important that the superb content developed by UK games studios gets the right backing to help scale to global markets. With this report we have a powerful, real-time tool to help existing and new investors identify potential investment opportunities in the sector.”

Train2Game News UKIE outlines new manifesto for games industry

UKIE LogoOn Tuesday, Ukie, in partnership with Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft, hosted its largest ever Westminster Political Reception to announce a range of policy recommendations and to celebrate the cultural and economic importance of the UK games sector.

The event, held at Millbank Tower, was attended by more than 200 members, MPs, Peers, policy makers and industry figures from a range of creative industry sectors.

The event saw the launch of the new Ukie Policy Manifesto for the next Parliament that outlines initial plans for how to further grow the UK games sector following the introduction of tax breaks earlier this year, and the introduction of the new Computing curriculum earlier this week.

Created with input from Ukie’s members, the Policy Manifesto calls for action on three headline areas of policy support:

· Support to help UK games companies grow across the UK – including regulatory stability, better infrastructure and a long term roadmap where games businesses can access public funding and support proportionate to the other screen industries

· Promotion of the UK games industry abroad – demonstrating that the UK is one of the leading videogame industries in the world, including a focus on funding, fully supporting and working with industry on trade and investment activity such as trade missions and helping UK businesses to reach overseas marketplaces

· Building a strong and diverse talent pipeline – including supporting the new Computing Curriculum, investing in careers guidance and extending and making permanent the Skills Investment Fund

The reception heard from Justin Tomlinson MP, PPS to Ed Vaizey, on the work that the coalition government has done to support the UK games sector.

Justin Tomlinson MP said: ““The UK games industry is going from strength to strength, recovering some of the ground lost to other countries over the last few years. This growth has been helped very much by the hard work put in by Ukie and the major policy initiatives introduced by this government, such as a new computing curriculum and the recent introduction of production tax relief. However, more can of course be done and in my new role working closely with Ed Vaizey I very much welcome Ukie’s new Policy Manifesto and look forward to discussing its recommendations with Jo and her team in more detail over the coming months.”

The guests also heard from Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, and Roy Stackhouse, General Manager for Activision Blizzard UK and Ireland, discussing Ukie’s manifesto proposals and the strength of the UK as a place to make games.

Ukie CEO, Dr Jo Twist said: “We were delighted by the introduction of games industry tax relief earlier this year but quickly realised that it is essential that we maximise the opportunities that the new scheme presents. We have therefore spent the last six months speaking to our members from across the breadth of our sector about the measures that they would like to see the UK government introduce to truly put the UK’s games industry on the global map. Our Policy Manifesto outlines our members priority asks and we will be following this up with more detailed papers and briefings to MPs to continue our push to make this the best country in the world to make and sell games.”

UK MD of Ubisoft, Rob Cooper commented on the importance of the Westminster Reception in maintaining a positive view of the UK games sector: “Events like these are vital in showing the significance of the UK games industry, both culturally and economically, to a high profile audience of policy makers and other VIPs. We are delighted to support this year’s event and Ukie’s work generally in giving a voice to UK games businesses of all sizes from multinationals like Ubisoft, to smaller developers, making and selling some of the most vibrantly creative interactive entertainment in the world.”

Guests at the reception had a chance to play some of Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard’s latest titles including Valiant Hearts: The Great War, Just Dance 2014, Diablo III and Skylanders: Trap Team. Charity Special Effect were also there demonstrating their latest innovations to help young people with different abilities enjoy games.

You can find Ukie’s Policy Manifesto for the New Parliament here: http://ukie.org.uk/news/2014/09/ukie-westminster-reception

Train2Game News UKIE on Tax Relief

UKIE LogoUK games trade body heralds new reliefs as a huge boost to the UK games and interactive entertainment sector and pledges to now further promote the UK games industry to the rest of the world

Following today’s announcement that the long-awaited games production credit scheme has been greenlit by the European Commission, Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist said: “This is a huge boost to the UK games and interactive entertainment sector and the start of a great new era of games production in the UK. We are delighted the European Commission recognised the clear market failure for the production of games with a British and European flavour, using UK-based creative and highly skilled talent.

“We are extremely happy to have played a part, as a strong collective voice for the industry, to get the scheme over the finishing line. We have been in constant contact with government throughout the process and have applied pressure and evidence for the scheme to be introduced at every opportunity.

“I’d like to thank all the hundreds of games companies and individuals across the country who have worked so hard collectively and who have played such a crucial role in getting to this point. The next strategic priority for us now is in applying pressure in different ways so that games businesses can access more programmes which support access to international markets, training and finance so we can be fully recognised as a sector that can lead the world again.”

Ukie will be focussing on ensuring UK developers from all parts of the country and of all sizes know how to benefit from the scheme. Ukie will also be working with its creative industry partners and the UKTI to ensure more support can be accessed by UK businesses to access new markets and to promote the UK as a destination for studios.

“We are touring the country for a series of events with experts from UK government and other industry experts to give simple, clear advice to the companies so they know what they have to do to benefit.”

Ukie will be launching their tax production credit roadshows and how to workshops around the UK from April with tax experts Saffery Champness and the BFI (who are administering the cultural test) on hand to help developers understand how they can apply for them. The first briefing session will be on 15 April in London at UkieHQ (2pm). Further sessions will also be held on the evening of 30 April in Edinburgh (6pm) in partnership with the Scottish Games Network and in Birmingham on the afternoon of 2 May (2pm), in partnership with Innovation Birmingham.

More dates in Newcastle, Liverpool and Bristol will be confirmed soon. Please register for all the events here.