Today saw the publishing of the much-awaited Independent Review of the Creative Industries (IRCI), which the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) commissioned out of the Industrial Strategy paper earlier this year.
The headline statement was that the report supported calls for an extended UK games fund and recommends that the 'Government should invest 23.7 million over five years to extend the highly successful and innovative UK Games Fund and Transfuser graduate development programme.'
It goes on to say that "Whilst the industry benefits from the Video Games Tax Relief, the dedicated public funding is far lower than for TV or film, mostly comprising the 4.2 million that the UK Games Fund was awarded for the period 2015-2019 to support prototype-stage development." Making the 23.7m a huge hike in investment and one in line with calls made by industry trade bodies.
It notes the valuable input of those trade bodies - namely Ukie and TIGA - in raising understanding of the sector, and also notes the recent BGI proposal to promote British games and deliver support. It further comments that: "Certainly in the longer term, government should take a more strategic approach to fostering growth in the video games industry and highlighting its cultural impacts."
The 76-page document makes nine key points concerning video games and immersive technologies, a second recommendation in the report says that:
"Within six months, government should confirm it will make innovation investment available for cutting-edge, business-led research and innovation projects in immersive reality to ensure the UK takes a global leadership role in developing commercial, cultural and production applications for these technologies."
The report notes the potential dangers for a talent-based industry with no expensive infrastructure: "Games production is highly mobile and the UK faces stiff competition for this investment from overseas. Most famously, in just ten years Canada took its games sector from obscurity to become the third largest in the world after the US and Japan by offering targeted, generous support."
The report was led by the Chair of ITV Sir Peter Bazalgette. We were somewhat concerned that Bazalgette's TV background might again push games to the back of queue, but the sector has received a huge amount of attention, in terms of its raw appearances, with a quick search of the document showing them mentioned 102 times, more than film or TV, so that's a good turnaround.
Speaking more widely on screen industries it says: 'Businesses in these industries are highly mobile and there is fierce international competition for their work. Government and industry need to come together to support a long-term package of proposals rooted in innovation, investment and skills to ensure that the UK remains the most innovative, exciting and accessible place to develop new material for screen.'