New initiatives show UKIE strength at AGM

There’s still no news on the new exec director, but attendees to UKIE’s successful AGM last week would be be forgiven for thinking it didn’t need a leader.

The central London meeting, attended by MCV, revealed a raft of new initiatives the trade body is implementing alongside its more traditional duties on age ratings, charts and IP protection.

UKIE will open a new office in Scotland, is forming a developer group lead by Ian Livingstone, and has become a UKTI trade event partner.

The UKIE Development Group will be formed and chaired by organisation vice chair, Ian Livingstone. The group will be part of UKIE’s widened remit to serve the UK’s developer community.

The organisation says it will "help all development studios including indie start-ups to grow and scale, helping them with the route to market and making themselves investment ready". Areas of focus include access to finance, IP ownership and retention, skills, business and financial advice including tax credits, advice on publishing, marketing and legal affairs.

In a similar vein, UKIE has been appointed by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) as the exclusive approved trade organisation for 2012’s Gamescom and GDC Europe in Cologne, and GDC 2013 in San Francisco. While exact funding is still to be confirmed, the deal means UKIE will be able to help smaller businesses attend key trade events in Germany and the USA.

Lastly, UKIE confirmed it is creating a Scottish office to get closer to Scotland’s thriving development and publishing community – with more details due in the coming weeks.

The announcements are certain to raise-eyebrows at developer-facing trade body Tiga, which rejected calls to consider a merger with UKIE – a merger which UKIE was keen to explore

UKIE Chairman, Andy Payne commented: UKIE is the only the only trade body that represents the UK’s wider interactive entertainment industry.

"By creating a developer group, getting a presence on the ground in Scotland and being appointed as the Approved Trade organisation for Gamescom/GDC in Cologne and GDC in San Francisco we’re leading the way in delivering more of the products and services that the games industry needs.”

The UKIE board also reaffirmed on-going plans for both the legalisation of the PEGI ratings and introduction of a digital chart for UK sales.

The latter is close to finishing its private beta, and the first public digital chart should see light in early 2012.

Warner Bros’ Spencer Crossley, head of the UKIE’s commercial steering group, added that as well as the digital chart the organisation is working with ISFE and its consumer-panel based digital research.

Meanwhile plans are still on course for PEGI, which is currently awaiting final EU sign offs before UK Government grants the on-pack marks as the only ratings standard for video games.

Once the ratings are made legal, said EA’s Keith Ramsdale, head of UKIE’s health, wellbeing and social steering group, said that the organisation would kick off a public awareness campaign to inform consumers about the changes.

And what of that vacant director general role, empty since Michael Rawlinson’s departure in April? We won’t have long to wait on that, either – according to chairman Payne, the new hire will be named within a matter of weeks.

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