Ireland to Give "Flexible" Incentives to Video Games Industry

ForfásIreland will be the latest country to offer incentive packages to bring video game development to their country following an announcement (reg required) by Prime Minister Enda Kenny. The announcement comes following a report by Forfás, Ireland’s policy advisory board relating to technology and innovation, indicating that the country could more than double its employment in core games activities to 4,500 people with positive policies.

Richard Burton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation, stated that the time was right to get into digital entertainment to grow Irish jobs.

“This government has identified digital games as a target with particularly high potential for jobs growth in the coming years. The global industry is predicted to be worth $82billion by 2015, and we in Ireland could create jobs in the sector for an extra 2,500 within three years.”

Games Ireland, a trade body representing the games industry in Ireland, was supportive of the move and indicated the model of other countries who have received government support for their own games industries. Communications director Paul Hayes told that the incentives would have to be “flexible” to keep up in a rapidly changing market.

“We’ll take the best that we can from the Korean or the French or the Canadian experience, and just try and add what we can. I think as a country we’ve been pretty good at that and this is the first time that we’ve really focussed on games with a bit of a laser beam.”

Games Ireland CEO David Sweeney keyed on Ireland’s “rich reservoir of talent” in an official statement from the newly formed group.

“Ireland’s rich reservoir of talent, technique and tenacity mean that it is now perfectly placed to play a leading role in Europe’s video game industry, The Forfás report is a clear signpost for the kind of Games Incentive Package that Ireland will develop and offer to the fast changing industry to become the best place to develop games by 2016.”

One of the groups that Mr. Hayes indicated was instrumental for laying the foundation for the region, UK-based trade group TIGA, was quick to issue a press release urging Parliament to “wake up to competitive threats.” TIGA CEO Dr. Richard Wilson was highly critical, urging British politicians to consider Ireland’s recent history and their method of recovering.

“Although Ireland has been through a wrenching economic downturn, it already has a very credible business proposition in place: a corporation tax rate of 12.5 per cent, an R&D Tax Credit and a well-educated and flexible workforce.

“The Government should support the growth of the UK games industry through the introduction of a well-targeted tax break for games production; expanding the scope of the R&D Tax Credits to include the costs of premises, IP protection and design; and by establishing a Creative Content Fund to co-finance approved game production projects.”

Dr. Wilson’s statement comes after a recent TIGA study indicated that, although the UK’s games industry pumps £1bn into the British economy, about 40% of the industry is reporting having problems accessing financing.

Ireland is the home of Havok Software, who have developed a software development kit that has featured in many AAA titles, most recently in Dark Souls and The Witcher 2.

The entire Forfás report can be read below. Gaming Bus’s interview with Dr. Richard Wilson of TIGA can be read here.

Analysis: Doing a search for TIGA on this site will yield all of the articles I’ve written about both the UK’s situation and Canada’s, a country that is now the model for other countries who want to bring in the lucrative education market. This brings in a highly educated workforce (according to that TIGA survey, a typical British studio will have about 80% of its workforce holding a university degree), as well as enough revenue from the additional business and resources to make up for the initial loss of tax investment and then some. This is notwithstanding the additional benefit that comes with fruitful, thriving communities, such as the secondary and tertiary financial benefits on local businesses, thriving education systems, and social gains from so many similarly minded people in one area.

On the other hand, the United Kingdom, in its compulsive need to stick to its guns for the sake of it, still refuses to consider giving breaks instead watching passively as thousands of jobs go across the Atlantic and to developing countries such as India. Maybe this is politically acceptable because we seemingly can’t go a week without the Sun or the Daily Mail using video games as a scapegoat for everything short of Al Qaeda, but it reeks of shooting one’s foot to spite their leg.

I’m in total agreement with Dr. Wilson’s scathing critique in his latest press release. Prime Minister Cameron, it’s your move.

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Christopher Bowen

About Christopher Bowen

Christopher Bowen is the Editor in Chief of Gaming Bus. Before opening Gaming Bus in May of 2011, he was the News Editor at Diehard GameFAN, a lead reporter for DailyGamesNews, and a reviewer at Not A True Ending, also contributing to VIMM, SNESZone and Scotsmanality. Outside of the industry, he is a network engineer in Norwalk, CT and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.