Train2Game News First Year Games Tax Relief

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237 games approved for Video Games Tax Relief in 2015, BFI stats show

Stats released today by the BFI show that 237 games were approved for Video Games Tax Relief in 2015 with a total EEA/UK spend of £728.9m. 2015 is the first full year since their launch in April 2014.

A breakdown of these figures in Interim and Final certification is as follows:

Final – 116 games, EEA/UK spend £180.9m, Total budget £265.6m, EEA/UK is 68.1% of total budget

Interim – 121 games, EEA/UK spend £548m, Total budget £603.6m, EEA/UK is 90.8% of total budget

Ukie CEO, Dr Jo Twist responded to the stats, saying: “These figures show that the Video Games Tax relief is working to encourage strong growth in our sector. The high interim figures also indicate that this is only expected to show more growth in the coming months and years, with more culturally British games being created in the UK with a wider range of budgets.”

“Now that we have a clearer picture of the impact, with the full first year’s figures, Ukie would like further detail to be provided, starting with a regional breakdown of the numbers to show how VGTR is helping across the country. We are now undeniably in a stronger place thanks to VGTR. We have a level playing field with the rest of the world, and now we need to capitalise on that opportunity. Initiatives such as the Mayor-funded Games London plan and the London Games Festival, which will showcase why the UK is games capital of the world, are showing what we can achieve with the right support in place .”

The full report can be found here http://www.bfi.org.uk/sites/bfi.org.uk/files/downloads/bfi-british-film-other-screen-sector-certification-2015-2016-03-02.pdf with the stats for games on p.15.

Train2Game News Video Games Prototype Fund

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The new Prototype Fund announced in the July Budget, following concerted lobbying by Ukie, has been launched today.

The Fund will have £4 million over the next four years with which to aid access to finance for both present and future games talent.

The Video Games Prototype Fund, run by the UK Games Talent and Finance CIC, will provide grants of up to £25k to help businesses turn ideas into working prototypes, used to attract private investment. Young and start-up companies will benefit from the scheme,  which is aimed at small and micro-businesses in the UK games industry. An emphasis will also be on nurturing new talent in the sector, with mentoring opportunities and skills support being provided along with the financial backing to successful applicants to the fund.

The project takes over from the Abertay Fund, which supported many earlier businesses to access finance when it ran from 2010 to 2014.

Access to finance is an ongoing problem for fledgling games development businesses attempting to create and retain new Intellectual Property. This financial and business support in the early stages of a studio’s opening will bridge the gap until private investment can be procured. Support for smaller, regional companies will indirectly help larger companies by developing the talent pipeline and stimulating the creation of more IP in the UK.

Successful grant applications will be decided upon published criteria, including potential for commercial success, viability and scalability.

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

    We lobbied for this kind of support and we are pleased to see the Fund launch. It has enormous potential for the future of the UK games industry. Access to finance has been an on-going challenge for small and micro games businesses, and the financial support of the fund, as well as the mentoring opportunities that are provided, will open doors to a huge amount of unearthed games talent in the UK. Ukie is really proud to continue to support this project. It is one more step towards the UK becoming a world leader in games development.

Further information about how to apply for the Video Games Prototype Fund and the criteria can be found on their website.

Train2Game News UKIE 2015 Member Survey

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Ukie’s 2015 member survey results indicate UK games businesses are confident of future growth in a global market place.

Ahead of its AGM at EGX tomorrow, Ukie has revealed the results of its 2015 Member Survey. The results, collected from Ukie’s membership of developers, publishers, platform holders and games service providers, reveal a rise in the number of start-up games companies and confidence of further growth, fuelled by international deals and the introduction of the tax breaks last year.

The Ukie survey results show that 4 out of 5 UK games businesses are anticipating a period of growth for their company in the next 18 months. This statistic is an improvement on 2014, where 77% of respondents anticipated that their business would grow.

Significantly, this is particularly evident in UK developers, where 93% of respondents expect the next year and a half to bring growth for their company.

The Video Games Tax Relief, which came into effect in 2014, appears to have played a role in this expectation of growth, with 64% of developer respondents saying that they have been able to hire more staff as a direct result of a successful tax relief application. Nine out of 10 respondents plan to take advantage of the tax breaks for culturally relevant games in the future.

The survey also showed the huge growth in UK games businesses over the last few years, with nearly half the respondents to the survey (46%) being companies that have been in existence for 5 years or fewer. A majority of the businesses are also considered small or micro, with 61% employing 25 or fewer staff.

Despite the relative youth and small size of many games companies, the UK sector contributes £1.4bn GVA to the economy and the UK consumer market was estimated to be worth £3.6bn in 2014, ranking sixth worldwide.

The survey also revealed how active UK games businesses are in overseas markets. Over two thirds (68%) of Ukie members generated over 60% of their annual turnover from business outside of the UK, showing a huge export nature and international reputation of the products made in Britain. Ukie operates a global trade programme to help UK games businesses of all sizes to access international markets and forge overseas partnerships.

Ukie CEO, Dr Jo twist, commented on the results, saying, “It’s great to see such a confident outlook from UK games businesses as we continue to demonstrate that we are a hugely productive, growth sector of the future. Ukie lobbied hard for the Tax Relief to come into effect, and to see it having such an impact in actively growing our industry is amazing. Our survey also shows the importance of overseas markets to UK companies – our sector is competing against some major global competitors and our presence in the international markets is something of which we should all be proud. I look forward to seeing the further impact of the Tax Breaks, the introduction of more events in our global trade programme and the continued growth in the fantastic UK industry in the next 18 months.”

Train2Game News Great British Summer Game Jam

Great British Summer Game JamMind Candy has partnered with Autodesk to encourage people to get into game development, promote the UK’s games industry and experiment with new technology and hardware in the first ever Great British Summer Game Jam.

The Jam will see development teams creating games around the “British Summer” theme to win a variety of prizes from the likes of Unity3d, Marmalade and PlayJam. Ukie is also supporting a special “Accessibility Award”, judged by accessibility consultant Ian Hamilton, for the game which is the most accessible to those with impairments and disabilities.

The Great British Summer Game Jam will run from Saturday 5th July to Sunday 6th July but teams will be encouraged to tinker with some of the new technology that Mind Candy has collected from various partners from Thursday 26th June to start preparing for their game. The technology for the jam is provided by partners Autodesk, Marmalade, Unity3d, Simplygon, Allegorithmic, PlayCanvas, PlayJam (GameStick), Simplygon and AMD. Anybody of any skill level can sign up, be it students or established developers, and take part remotely or in person at Mind Candy’s offices in East London, where jammers will be kept supplied with sustenance, funky office space, WiFi and power.

CTO of Mind Candy, Jeff Reynar said “At Mind Candy, we know from experience that a small game idea can turn into a massive break-out hit.  We love Game Jams and run them internally – they are a great way to discover and try out new ideas, or just to have fun! We are hugely excited to be hosting The Great British Game Jam in our London office and can’t wait to see what everyone creates!”

CEO of Ukie, Dr Jo Twist said “We are really proud to be part of this fantastic initiative and to be supporting the Accessibility Award in particular. Jams like these are a great way to raise awareness around issues like accessibility and with today’s huge array of technology, tools, and ways to reach new audiences on different platforms, there has never been a more exciting time to make games. It will be fantastic to see what kind of creative and innovative projects come out of the Jam from some of the UKs best developers.”

The Jam kicks off with a briefing session and tech presentation at Mind Candy’s office today (Thursday 26th June). It will be recorded and put on online after for anybody who misses it. For more information or to register for the briefing session, follow this link – http://gbsgamejam.eventbrite.com

Train2Game News UKIE still positive after budget

UKIE LogoUK games trade body still optimistic of getting a decision from the EC soon and urges UK government to continue pushing as hard as possible for their introduction.

Responding to the Budget announcement by Chancellor George Osborne, Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist said the following about the lack of any announcement on the long-awaited games production tax credits by the Chancellor.

Dr Twist said: “The ongoing delay to the UK games tax relief scheme has been very frustrating for UK developers. Whilst there was not any announcement about the European Commission’s decision in this year’s budget, we continue to be confident that our case is strong and that we will receive word from the EC soon. We know that the Treasury and other UK government departments have worked hard to convince Europe of the case for UK Games Tax Relief, and we will continue to do everything we can to help push tax relief over the finishing line and get this vital scheme in place for UK developers as soon as possible”.

The full Budget document (the Red Book) sets out a small change to the legislation behind Games Tax Relief, in paragraph 2.114, which would be enacted should the relief get clearance. However, the relief remains subject to state aid clearance, meaning that final European Commission approval is still required before it can go ahead.

There was other relevant news for games companies in the Budget however, with announcements of:

·         The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme to be made permanent
·         Extra £85 million in next two years in grants to employers to support 100,000 new apprenticeships
·         £20 million over 2 years to support degree-level apprenticeships
·         Confirmation that Corporation Tax will be 21% in April, 20% from April 2015
·         £2,000 Employment Allowance announced last year will come into force in April – reduces Employer National Insurance Contributions
·         UK Export Finance will be reformed to support intangible exports, be much more proactive in support of UK businesses, and have its direct lending budget double to £3 billion at the lowest permitted interest rates.
·         R&D Tax Credit for loss-making SMEs will increase from 11% to 14.5%
·         Enterprise Zone discounts on business rates and Enhanced Capital Allowances will be extended by 3 years
·         Double the Annual Investment Allowance for businesses to £500,000 until the end of 2015
·         Provide £42 million over 5 years to set up the Alan Turing Institute to lead the world in Big Data and algorithm research

In response, Dr Twist said: “Many of these new announcements are welcome steps which should help further cement the position of the UK as the best place in the world to make and sell games. Helping SMEs to grow more quickly is particularly crucial, and the announcements on SEIS and export support should have a good impact in this regard.

“However, it is Games Tax Relief which will have a real impact in unlocking our sector’s cultural and economic potential, as the government recognised when introducing the scheme. It is vital that we get it in place as soon as possible”.

Train2Game News: UKIE and Nesta mentoring

UKIE LogoUkie, who bring games industry expertise and Nesta, who have years of experience of running successful creative industry mentoring schemes, have partnered to develop a mentoring scheme designed specifically for UK games businesses.

Building on the success of Nesta’s wider creative Business Mentor Network, the Video Game Mentoring Network has been set up by Ukie and Nesta to advise and nurture games businesses with an appetite for growth.

The scheme will be officially launched in April but games businesses are being invited to express their interest in being mentored now by contacting mentoring@ukie.org.uk

Businesses joining 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 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. They are also calling on potential mentors to express and interest in being part of the scheme. 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: “This partnership with Nesta gives games businesses an amazing opportunity to get first hand expert advice from people with proven track records in the games industry. Mentoring is invaluable both for mentees and for mentors. Our industry is especially good at collaborating and sharing stories and experiences so we encourage all businesses to apply and be part of the network.”

Mentors for the programme are being selected from successful leaders in the games industry, with experience of working in a variety of businesses from creating their own successful independent development studios and publishing companies, to working at senior levels for multinational games businesses. Individuals can express interest in becoming a mentor by contacting mentoring@ukie.org.uk.

Train2Game News: UKIE still campaigning for Games Tax Relief

UKIE LogoUkie has again called for the planned games production credits for UK games businesses to be introduced as soon as possible.

The games trade body has cited new UK production statistics released today by the BFI, that show the new High-end Television Tax Relief has delivered over £233 million for the UK economy in its first nine months, as evidence of the benefits that a similar relief system would bring to the UK’s games sector.

Board member of film and TV body, Film London, and Chair of Ukie, Andy Payne said:

“Seeing the hard financial evidence that the production tax credits have worked for high end TV, and in such a short space of time, proves that the digital creative industries can drive exports, deliver growth and high value jobs as well as attract considerable inward investment.

“This will play a significant part in increasing the UK’s productivity which is so badly needed. The games industry looks forward to the games production tax credits coming into force very soon and having a very positive effect for the UK games industry and the creative industries for UKPLC.”

Ukie CEO, Dr Jo Twist said: “These figures show the massive benefits that tax credits could bring to the UK games industry, opening the door for big inward investment and helping small businesses to scale up. They would help the creative talent in this country to produce more and compete in a global marketplace with uniquely British or European flavoured games. We know that the UK government continues to be behind the games tax relief and remain positive that they will be introduced. We urge UK government and the European Commission to make sure that the new system is introduced as soon as possible so that UK games business can benefit in the same way that TV sector is.”

View the full BFI figures here http://www.bfi.org.uk/sites/bfi.org.uk/files/downloads/bfi-film-production-in-the-uk-full-year-2013-2014-01-30.pdf

Ukie will be focussing on working with the government and other creative industry agencies to ensure the games sector benefits from other inward investment activities, trade support programmes and industry promotion as part of the government’s wider ambition to sell the opportunity that the UK’s creative industries offer.

Train2Game news: UKIE appoint Jo Twist as CEO

Interactive entertainment industry trade body UKIE has announced the appointment of Dr. Jo Twist as their new CEO.

Her current role is Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor for education, with previous positions at the BBC including Multiplatform Editor and for BBC Entertainment and BBC Three Multiplatform Channel Editor.

“We are really excited that Jo has agreed to lead UKIE at this really exciting time in our development.” said UKIE Chairman Andy Payne.

We took our time to find the right CEO and we believe we have her. Jo’s passion for games and her background in media and commissioning content will allow us to further help UK games and interactive entertainment makers and all those involved in this industry get further political and economic traction in a connected, digital worldwide market which is teeming with exciting opportunities.” he said

“I would also like to thank especially Rob Cooper, David Yarnton, Matt Carroll, Keith Ramsdale and Ian Livingstone who have helped UKIE appoint such a great person, it was a real team effort.” Payne added.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to join the brilliant UKIE team at a time when the British interactive entertainment industry is forging its path as a global leader” Twist said if her appointment as UKIE CEO.

“UKIE has already achieved so much in bringing the potential of our games industry to the national debate, and I am hugely excited to represent its members and help shape its vision for 2012 and on. I will of course be sad to be leaving the Channel 4 Education team who continue to produce award winning and innovative interactive content for young people.”

Twist will begin her role as UKIE CEO on January 9th 2012.

As recently reported by the Train2Game blog, UKIE helped the government accept the Livingstone-Hope review and they now support the teaching of coding in schools.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the appointment of Jo Twist as UKIE CEO?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.