Train2Game News Now Play This

Ukie has become a major funder of this year’s Now Play This, part of the London Games Festival, to support more experimental game commissions and to help extend the exhibition’s run.

It comes as part of a new three-way partnership with Games London and Now Play This CIC.

This year, Now Play This will extend from four days to nine, bringing the latest in experimental game design from around the world to Somerset House for its biggest edition ever. Ukie’s funding will enable more commissions and content to exist for practitioners to showcase their work to the public. It will also fund more workshops and key industry talks on skills development as well as networking opportunities.

The commitment from Ukie reflects the significance of Now Play This and its role as part of the London Games Festival, which is a joint project between Film London and Ukie, supported by the Mayor of London. The exhibition is a popular, family friendly part of the Festival programme and extending the run will enable more people to get hands on with the games on display.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie (The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment) said: “Now Play This is a true celebration of the culture, curiosity and creative breadth of games. We are delighted that this contribution from the sector means more creativity and artistry from the community. We’re also pleased that the funding will help Now Play This to have more original commissioned work and more opportunities for anyone interested in our powerful form of art.”

Jonathan Reekie CBE, Director of Somerset House Trust, said: “We are extremely grateful to Ukie for their enhanced support of this year’s Now Play This at Somerset House. This has enabled us to double the length of the festival to nine days, with more games, talks and workshops for visitors of all ages. With Ukie’s support, Now Play This continues to offer a vital platform for talented artists and game developers and ensure that experimental game design often engaging in unexpected subjects is thriving.”

Now Play This is a festival of experimental game design which runs at Somerset House in London as part of London Games Festival. This year Now Play This will run over nine days from 6-14 April, featuring exciting hands-on gameplay for all ages to enjoy, from solo games to multiplayer collaborative experiences, from a host of multidisciplinary artists and creators. Visitors can also enjoy a range of free outdoor gaming installations, as well as a series of insightful talks, workshops and activities from the designers and makers taking part in the festival.

Train2Game News Ukie 30 Years Of Play

Ukie has launched 30 Years of Play, a major campaign for 2019 marking the trade body’s 30th birthday year, making it the oldest games trade body in the world.

The campaign celebrates the past, present and future of the UK’s games and interactive entertainment sector through a year long calendar of content, events and activities.

The campaign will tell the stories of the UK games industry, from its early roots, through the 1980s when Ukie (then ELSPA) was created, to the present day.

It will reveal some hidden stories and create a home for previously unseen archival materials revealing the past few decades of the political environment for games, as well house key events celebrating the major achievements of the sector and the people who have made it.

The 30 Years of Play campaign will include:

  • A dedicated microsite – 30yearsofplay.uk – hosting content detailing the history and stories of our sector, as well as information about events and other campaign news.
  • A podcast series that explores the stories behind leading UK made video games – such as Rome: Total War, Football Manager, Monument Valley, Fable and more – and the wider critical or cultural impact they had.
  • Key events throughout the year, including an event to highlight best-selling games in the UK over the last three decades, a gala dinner to celebrate Ukie’s birthday and appoint a new generation of video game ambassadors at the Westminster games day.
  • Opportunities for industry partners to contribute content, events and activities through an official partnership scheme.
  • Creating a digital archive for important interactive entertainment documentation to help preserve the history of our genre.

The campaign launches officially on Monday 21th January and will run until the end of the year.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, says:

“The 30 Years of Play campaign is an opportunity for the industry to come together and tell the stories of the positive impact people and games have had on our economy, on our culture, on lives, and on society.

As the oldest games trade body in the world, we also want to dig in our own archives – three decades of publications, government reports, correspondence – to see what has changed and how far we have come as a responsible, creative, innovative and self-regulating industry. We would like to have as much of the UK sector – companies and individuals – to join in and share their stories too.”
Noirin Carmody, COO Revolution Software and Chair of the Ukie Board of directors added:

“Although this campaign is timed to coincide with Ukie’s 30th birthday, its aim is to reflect how our thriving industry has succeeded because of decades of hard work from thousands of talented, passionate individuals. From the pioneers of the 1980s through to the current generation driving the sector forward today, we want to shine a spotlight on the bright and brilliant people who contributed, and continue to contribute, to the success of our sector.

And in doing so, we want to bring that creativity and passion to a new and diverse generation, driving our sector to ever greater economic and cultural heights.”

Train2Game News GameBlast18

There’s just one week to go before gamers across the UK join forces to raise money for SpecialEffect in GameBlast18, the UK’s biggest charity gaming weekend.

Hundreds of gamers, including eSports teams, streamers, and community groups, will take to their PCs and consoles throughout the weekend of 23-25 February to host sponsored marathon livestreams, gaming tournaments and many other challenges in support of the charity, which enables anyone, whatever their physical disability, to enjoy video games and leisure technology.

Now in its fifth year, the event aims to raise £100,000 for SpecialEffect.

Many major names in the games industry are also backing the event, including Jagex, GAME, Multiplay, Twitch, Insert Coin, SEGA, Nomad, Lockwood Publishing and Ukie. So far, almost 300 Justgiving fundraising pages have been created, meaning this year’s GameBlast is set to have the highest number of participants in its five-year history.

Jagex will be hosting the GameBlast Games – a 24-hour marathon of gaming, chaos and gruelling challenges. Broadcast live from their Cambridge headquarters and beginning 12pm GMT on Friday 23 February, the event will be streamed via the official RuneScape twitch.tv channel. The stream will feature regular faces from Jagex, the RuneScape and Old School dev teams, along with Twitch content creators and friends from the industry – including Codemasters and Frontier Developments – who will all go head to head in the ultimate games battle.

As Jagex clock-off at 12pm GMT on Saturday 24, staff from GAME and Multiplay Events will take up the baton with their own marathon broadcast, promising another 24 hours of gaming challenges and stretch-goal forfeits. GAME stores and BELONG arenas across the country will be hosting their own GameBlast activities, with raffles, tournaments and eSports tournaments on offer to gamers throughout the weekend. Meanwhile, GAME’s charity trade-in offer will continue until the end of the month, with customers being given the opportunity to donate £1 or more from every trade-in to SpecialEffect.

In addition, both Jagex and GAME will be running eBay auctions of gaming swag, merchandise and experiences.

“We can’t wait for GameBlast18” said Tom Donegan, the charity’s Events Coordinator.

“I love seeing the variety of challenges on offer – the creativity and generosity of our supporters is just so inspiring! The funds raised will enable us to help more like Will (http://bit.ly/willspecialeffect), who suffered a spinal injury but who’s gaming again using shoulder and chin movements.”

“GameBlast18 is an opportunity to bring the gaming community together to do what they love and level the playing field for people with disabilities at the same time.”

More details about GameBlast18 can be found at https://www.gameblast18.org.uk or on Twitter @GameBlast18

Train2Game News UK games market reaches new heights in 2016

At its annual Games Industry Market Valuation Breakfast event yesterday, games trade body Ukie revealed the value of UK consumer games market reached a record £4.33bn in 2016, up +1.2% from 2015 figures.The result shows positive growth for the games and interactive entertainment economy, including an +11.1% increase in digital console and PC games sales and an impressive +16.9% rise in UK mobile games revenue – now worth £995m. Overall, software sales in the UK exceeded £3bn for the first time.

The consumer release of the first VR headsets has helped fuel the growth of the sector though the sales of VR hardware, included in the market valuation for the first time and valued at £61.3m. The impact of VR was also seen in the sale of top-end graphics cards, driving a huge increase in PC game hardware of +64% to £258m.  

As the current generation of the console cycle matures, there was an expected reduction in sales of new hardware, down to £507.5m.

UK games events have also seen a strong increase, up +20.6% from 2015, fuelled by a growing esports scene in the UK and consumers engaging more with the industry at UK-wide games shows such as popular Insomnia and upcoming EGX Rezzed.

The successes of both Pokémon GO and Minecraft were factors in increases for both categories for game-related toys and merchandise, and books and magazines. Toys and merchandise sales increased by +7.2% to £66.8m, with books and magazines increasing +13% to £18.4m.

The annual breakfast briefing was attended by industry, media and analysts, and featured lively panel discussions from industry leaders about the state of the UK industry and expected trends in the coming year.

Data was collated to build the total Market Valuation using trusted industry data sources including Superdata, GfK, Kantar Worldpanel, Neilsen, NPD, ABC, The Official Charts Company and Ukie.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said, “Our sector is constantly innovating and investing in new experiences, technologies and talent, resulting in the strong and resilient games industry shown in this £4.33bn market valuation. It has been an excellent year for the industry, including the release of first commercially available VR headsets, an exciting year for our national esports scene, and the explosion of the UK mobile market, which is now worth nearly £1bn alone.

These statistics will go a long way to reinforcing the message that the UK continues to be a world leading games market, remaining strong in the face of an uncertain political climate. Ukie will continue to use these stats to promote the strength of our sector nationally and worldwide to investors, the media, policy makers and more, to prove that the UK is the best place to make and sell games.

The next year will be a big year of change, but we look forward to seeing the market remain resilient and robust and a leading creative economy in the UK.”

Read the full market breakdown here.

Train2Game News UKIE on eSports

The trade body for games and interactive entertainment consulted with members of the UK esports community and today released the results in a whitepaper outlining eight recommendations for how the UK can become a global leader in esports.
The esports sector is set to be worth $1bn globally by 2019, and the UK’s ecosystem is young but growing. Highlighting the sector’s prospects in job creation, local economic growth, tourism, and new skills development, the report also indicates how the sector can be used as an example of the UK’s best technology, innovation and creativity.

As a trade body for interactive entertainment, Ukie now represents major UK stakeholders, including publishers, developers, platform holders, and key players in the esports ecosystem such as Hi-Rez, makers of Smite, ESL, Gfinity, FaceIT, Team Dignitas, Fnatic and Game/Multiplay amongst others.  They worked in consultation with Ukie via its largest member Sub Group to outline the measures.

The recommendations centre around:

    -The sector to work with key government departments to develop a unified strategic approach and appealing trade and investment offer to major international tournament holders, IP owners and brands;

    -The delivery of superfast broadband and 5G to provide the best infrastructure across the country;

    -The sector should coordinate itself as an industry group to share information and encourage and facilitate the sharing of best practice;

    -Industry and government to develop a methodology for more accurately measuring the UK esports sector;

    -Government to consider the needs of esports businesses and players in policy debates around skills and immigration and

    -The UK’s already world-leading games industry education courses to include esports modules;

    -Esports companies to actively support sustainable initiatives that promote and inspire diverse participation of esports;

    -Fifteen UK esports ambassadors to be created to promote esports in the UK and internationally, picked from a diverse mix of players, developers, publishers and event organisers, and to be added to the UK’s existing Video Games Ambassadors scheme.

Ukie also announced it would be supporting the Digital Schoolhouse powered by PlayStation to hold its first schools esports tournament in 2017.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said, “For some time, we have been proposing that esports in the UK could be a high value opportunity for the economy, provided the right infrastructure and support is in place so we can compete at a global level. Ukie stands for interactive entertainment, and esports is born out of the meeting of games, competition, fandom, live events, and digital innovation, and so in many ways is the epitome of interactive entertainment. Combining industry commitment with political and practical support both nationally and locally, collectively promoting the sector, and supporting the grassroots esports movement across the country, we can make the UK the leading global destination for esports.”

The whitepaper was launched at an event at Gfinity Arena, London’s home of esports, on Monday 28 November.

You can read the full report digitally here.

Train2Game News UKIE Board Election Results

Ukie formally announced the results of its 2016-17 Board election at the trade body’s AGM at EGX.
Veronique Lallier, VP European Publishing at High-Rez Studios, makers of eSports title Smite, joins the Board this year, along with six re-elected Directors.

Andy Payne, CEO of AppyNation, Rocket Lolly’s Ella Romanos, Ian Livingstone, Chair of Playmob, Sports Interactive’s Miles Jacobson and Curve Digital’s Stuart Dinsey will serve another two-year term and Noirin Carmody, Co-Founder and COO of Revolution Software, resumes her role as Chair of the Board for a second year.

It was also announced that Dave Gould, Senior Director of Sales UK & Export, Take Two Interactive, will take the Board Treasurer role.

Forty-two per cent of Ukie’s eligible voting membership voted in the election, which means the Board consists of 21 leading members of the games industry tasked with shaping Ukie’s strategy over the next two years. You can see the full list of the Ukie Board here.

Ukie also used the AGM to call for games companies to support the innovative Digital Schoolhouse programme, which launched nationwide last week, thanks to a new partnership with PlayStation.

The inspiring STEAM-driven computing education initiative is now active in 19 schools across the country, following a hugely successful pilot year in London. The first academic year of the national roll-out is expected to reach 15,000 school children with its unique play-based learning model that inspires children at a young age, especially girls, and equips teachers with creative computing resources and ways of teaching.

Warwick Light, MD & VP, UK & Ireland of lead Digital Schoolhouse partner, SIEE, called for more games companies across the UK to adopt their local schools to become Digital Schoolhouses, to strengthen bonds between industry and education and to help create new engaging ways to inspire children to learn digital skills.

If you are interested in hearing more about The Digital Schoolhouse, powered by PlayStation, or are interested in sponsoring your local secondary school, speak to programme director, Shahneila.

The AGM also saw the launch of The UK Games Map, a new interactive map platform created in partnership between Ukie and Nesta, the innovation foundation. The UK Games Map is the first complete dataset of the UK games industry, designed to chart the size, scale and geography of the sector using an automated Big Data approach.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said, “This has been a big year for Ukie, for the industry, and for the UK and we are proud to launch two key initiatives at our AGM – the UK Games Map and the call for games businesses to sponsor their local Digital Schoolhouse. These initiatives would not happen without the support of the Ukie Board who have the sector’s best interest at heart, and to the Ukie team, as well as our extensive network of members. I’m delighted to welcome back re-elected Board members and also welcome Veronique. I look forward to working with the Board and team to navigate big changes in the political landscape in the coming year, and making sure that the UK remains the best place to be making games.”

Noirin Carmody, Chair of Ukie, Co-Founder and COO of Revolution Software, said: “I’m pleased to welcome back familiar faces to the Board, and also to welcome Veronique to her new role. The announcement of the UK Games Map and the Digital Schoolhouse, powered by PlayStation, today, exemplify the hard work of the Ukie team and Board over the previous 12 months, and I am proud to be launching these in my first AGM as Chair. I am looking forward to another productive and successful year working with the new team.”

Train2game News UKIE on the 2016 Budget

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Chancellor George Osborne announced the 2016 Budget yesterday, setting out the government’s tax and spending plans for the next year and beyond.

95% of games companies are micro, small or medium sized enterprises, and 64% of firms were incorporated in the last 5 years. The Budget introduces a number of measures which will have a positive impact on small and micro games firms. Chief among these are cuts to business rates and stamp duty for lower-value properties, as well as some targeted support for the digital economy.

Responding to the announcements, Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist said:

“It’s good news for small studios.  The overwhelming majority of games firms are small or micro studios, most of which have emerged in the last five years.  Cuts to business rates and stamp duty will reduce the tax burden for these firms and boost growth and so will be welcomed by the UK games industry.

Looking to the future we will continue to call for public support for innovative games content through National Lottery funds, just like Film and TV have at the moment.  We also want to see long-term investment in talent and await further details in the Education White Paper tomorrow.”

More detail will follow once the Treasury and other Departments follow up on the speech.

Taxation
·         Cuts to business rates totalling £6.7 billion over five years, targeted at small businesses. 600,000 small businesses, including games companies, will pay no business rates at all.
·         Stamp Duty on commercial properties will be changed to a marginal system, reducing the large jumps in taxation between different property values, and rates will be cut for lower-value properties. As a result, 90% of non-residential properties will be taxed less or the same.
·         A new Museums and Galleries Tax Relief from April 2017, supporting the development and touring of new creative exhibitions
·         Corporation tax will be cut further to 17% in 2020
·         Capital gains tax will be cut from 28% to 20%, and from 18% to 10% for basic-rate payers
·         Self-employed people will see class 2 National Insurance Contributions abolished from April 2018, representing an average tax cut of £134 each.
·         A new sharing economy tax allowance of £1,000 each for property and trading income – removing taxes from income made through online platforms such as AirBnB.
·         Tax-free personal allowance and higher-rate threshold both to be raised. The personal allowance will go up to £11,500 in 2017-18. Higher-rate income tax will be incurred from £45,000, rather than £42,500.

Apprenticeships
·         Some new detail on the Apprenticeship Levy: from April 2017, employers will receive a 10% top-up to their monthly levy contributions in England and this will be available for them to spend on apprenticeship training through their digital account. The government will set out further details on the operating model in April and draft funding rates will be published in June.

Digital Economy
·         A new Broadband Investment Fund, in partnership with private sector investors, to support the growth of alternative broadband networks by providing greater access to finance
·         A 5G strategy in 2017, based on an assessment by the National Infrastructure Commission of how the UK can become a world leader in 5G
·         Establish a panel of leading experts, chaired by Kathryn Parsons, to shape the £20 million Institute for Coding competition

Measuring the Industry
The government has accepted all the recommendations from the Bean Review of Economic Statistics, including:
·         Invest over £10 million in a new ONS hub for data science: “The centre for excellence will improve the Office for National Statistics’ capability to measure the changes in the UK’s digital economy and to push the frontiers of economic measurement.”

Ukie will continue to make the case to the government, setting out how the UK can be the best place in the world to make and sell games, as demonstrated in our Blueprint for Growth report.

Train2game News UK Games Industry at GDC

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Biggest ever UK Industry contingent flies out to leading games developer conference

·         Ukie hosts the largest ever UK industry stand at GDC, with 40 UK games businesses exhibiting on their managed stand
·         2016 will see a new UK Growth and International Trade seminar, chaired by Ukie CEO
·         UK Industry Drinks reception returns, sponsored by Games London, UKTI, Wells Fargo and BAFTA

The world’s leading games developer conference, GDC, is set to feature the largest ever UK industry stand this year, managed and organised by games trade body, Ukie. Exhibiting businesses will demo new game releases and products on the official UK stand, as well as hosting meetings with international business partners.

The UK industry stand will host over 40 of the top UK games companies, including delegations from Wales, Northern Ireland and the Northern Powerhouse.

On Wednesday 16 March, Ukie CEO, Dr Jo Twist, will also be chairing a seminar at the British Consulate in San Francisco. The seminar, ‘UK Growth and International Trade’, will cover opportunities for international trade from the innovative games sector. The seminar will also include case studies of the financial incentives of developing games in the UK, such as the highly successful Video Games Tax Relief, which supported the development of 237 games in 2015. Companies speaking include transatlantic business experts Fitzgerald & Law and EKS&H, as well as a panel discussion with Edge Case Games and Silicon Valley Venture Capital.

Ukie will also host the annual UK Industry Drinks Reception on Wednesday 16 March, an evening of international networking, in partnership with Games London, Wells Fargo, BAFTA and UKTI.

Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, said, “It’s important that we continue to inform the global marketplace why the UK is such an attractive and important location for games businesses. GDC gives the UK industry a vital platform on which to showcase world-leading content and services to a global audience, attracting important investment and generating business with the brand new London Games Festival launching in April this year, part of Games London, we hope to see even more international attention to the sector in the UK.”

For more information on Games London visit www.games.london

Train2Game News UKIE and MCV market research

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Games trade body Ukie and leading games trade magazine MCV held their annual Market Valuation Breakfast today, where it was revealed that the value of the UK games market is up 5% from 2014, and now worth £4.19bn. Overall, the figures show positive growth across most of the categories of the UK games consumer market.

The biggest increase is seen in the mobile games market, worth £664m, an impressive £116m increase from 2014. Console hardware suffered a decrease in valuation, in 2015 being worth £689m, down from £915m in 2014.

For this year’s market valuation, Ukie and MCV added in a new category; specialist gaming PC hardware, which is worth £138m.

The market valuation has been calculated with input from leading data companies, GfK, IHS Technology, Neilson BookData, Official Charts company, NPD and Kantar. Representatives from some of these data companies spoke at a special launch breakfast held at Ukie this morning, where the figures were revealed for the first time.

Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, said, “This data shows the increasing strength of the games market and confident consumer growth in our industry. We’re pleased to see the market soar to nearly £4.2bn for the first time, which is a result of the constant creative and technological innovation in the UK industry, which makes our consumer market extremely strong. These statistics are hugely valuable to Ukie in our mission to promote the strength of our sector nationally – to investors, the media and policy makers – as well as internationally, where we aim to show that the UK is the best place in the world to make and sell games.”

Editor of MCV, Chris Dring, added, “Almost £4.2bn is an incredible result. And the figures show that there is opportunity across the industry, from games to accessories, past toys, books and events. Almost £1.9bn of the figures come from the booming digital sectors, which has become a major force for growth in games. But physical items still accounted for more than £2.3bn, so the results are positive for the entire business.

“Now we shall see what 2016 has in store with the arrival of new blockbuster games such as Uncharted 4, The Legend of Zelda and Gears of War, a rising tide of excellent looking independently-created titles, plus virtual reality and Nintendo’s secretive new console, the NX.”

Train2Game News Ukie Careers Bar Returning

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Ukie Careers Bar returns as part of the GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair at EGX Rezzed in April 2016

Ukie and GamesIndustry.biz, the world’s leading games trade website, are teaming up once again to bring the Ukie Careers Bar to the GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair. The long-running partnership will return to EGX Rezzed on 7-9 April 2016 at London’s Tobacco Dock to provide the future generations of games industry talent a valuable insight into how to break into this competitive industry.

Ukie’s popular Careers Bar will feature talks from some of the biggest names in the games industry from their Video Games Ambassador Scheme. The talks will provide expert insight from all areas of the games industry, from games art, programming and design, to publishing careers in PR, marketing and community management. The speaker schedule for the Careers Bar will be announced soon here.

Ukie’s expert Video Games Ambassadors will also be present throughout the Career Fair to provide one-to-one career and portfolio advice on a casual drop-in basis.

The GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair is the unique careers and education area at EGX Rezzed. Featuring a range of careers and education exhibitors, accessible advice from developers and educators, and unique networking opportunities, the Career Fair gives everyone a chance to get closer to the games industry.

EGX Rezzed, and the GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair and Ukie Careers Bar within it, feature as part of the London Games Festiva l, a new international celebration of UK games between 1-10 April 2016.

CEO of Ukie, Dr Jo Twist, said: “The Ukie Careers Bar is the best way for the next generation of games talent to explore what options they have to break into this competitive industry. The unique chance to gain personalised one-to-one career guidance from the biggest names already working in the games industry is an opportunity that we’re really proud to be able offer people who want to enter the industry. The games industry in the UK is a hotbed of creative and technical talent and we’re looking forward to meeting some more of this untapped, diverse talent and finding them their place in this great sector.”

European Editor of GamesIndustry.biz, Dan Pearson, said: “GamesIndustry.biz has really valued the contribution Ukie has made over the last 3 years by running their popular Careers Bar at our GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair. The Careers Bar has proved itself to be a core feature of the Career Fair, and it is great to see it back for another show. Also, the fact EGX Rezzed is set to play a role in the wider London Games Festival this year is a tribute to our longstanding focus on supporting careers and education within the games industry.”

Tickets for EGX Rezzed are available now.