The UK games industry has called upon PM Gordon Brown’s new ‘Ministry of Games’ to help it retain its creative talent – with some hinting that financial incentives should be offered to help halt the increasing shift of development centres overseas.
Margaret Hodge, Minister for Creative Industries, has pledged to continue the Government’s support of video games, telling MCV:
"I look forward to continuing to work closely with the video and computer games sector to support innovation and growth. The Government has an important role to play in championing all the creative industries, both at home and overseas, to ensure that the UK maintains its position at the forefront of the global stage."
The rally call comes after the reshuffle of the new Prime Minister’s Cabinet, which has seen former Minister for Creative Industries Shaun Woodward – a vocal advocate of the games industry – shifted from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to become Northern Ireland Secretary.
The shake-up has seen Margaret Hodge and James Purnell take up the reins – driving British games leaders to lobby for more support for the creative sector, which has seen the likes of Canada, China, India and even France become more attractive development bases, due to local Government investment and tax incentives.
"In the last six months the UK has slipped from the third largest manufacturer to the fourth, behind Canada," warned product acquisitions director at Eidos and chair of the Computer Games Skills Forum Ian Livingstone.
"An increasingly concerning issue is that UK development is losing its competitive position in global gaming and this can be attributed to the fact that other territories are offering attractive investment propositions."
Head of EA’s European studio recruitment Matthew Jeffrey also weighed in on the debate. He said: “The UK should beware of the dangers of becoming complacent. A real issue to consider is that key talent is relocating abroad to territories offering attractive investment propositions.”
ELSPA’s director general Paul Jackson offered similar concerns: "The challenge to the UK development community cannot be underestimated as newly emerging studios in Asia, particularly in China and India, compete for investment and potentially put the UK in a difficult or untenable commercial position. There are a mixture of measures that would help our industry long term and we continue to engage with Government in addressing them."