But new digital start-ups can fly the flag, industry veteran claims

Livingstone: UK’s become a work-for-hire nation

The British games industry has become one where a national workforce is building games for overseas publishers, Eidos Life President Ian Livingstone has said.

Speaking at an investment event in London, Livingstone praised the UK as “quite possibly being the most creative nation in the world” in terms of games design.

Yet, he lamented, the UK dev force creates content for the benefit for overseas publishers.

“We‘ve become a work-for-hire nation, and I think that’s a great shame,” he said.

Livingstone was speaking at the Investing in Videogames event at NESTA in London.

He told the investors in the room that games had become the largest entertainment industry in the world – $50 billion industry, one that will nearly double in growth by 2015, he added.

But the issue of ownership is a crucial one, Livingstone said.

Most UK studios – from Rare to Splash Damage to Rockstar – all publish their work through US firms. Microsoft, Bethesda and Take-Two have a stronghold on IP ownership.

But, Livingstone said, one booming sector in gaming could help UK devs retain their own property and creations – and that is through digital entertainment.

“It would be great in this new digital world that [British developers] can create and retain their IP,” Livingstone added.

He said a second ‘golden age’ for games beckons.

“Revenues for online will be bigger than boxed product by 2012,” he said.

“How are we going to build the Zynga’s in the UK?”

For a new wave of digital start-ups to happen, Livingstone claimed that developers need to better engage with investment firms.

Later, at a Q&A session, Livingstone said the UK remained a great place to do business.

He said "there is no reason why a Zynga cannot happen in the UK". We have the creative staff, we have investors who are interested".

"Of course Britain can compete."

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