TIGA, the independent game developers association, has proposed the creation of a creative content fund, to the Scottish government.
According to the press release, the fund would encourage the creation of new studios and businesses, stimulate the creation of new intellectual property and co-fund new content development.
The proposal has picked up strong support from companies and universities across Scotland, with Denki, Dynamo, Tag and 4J Studios backing the fund, alongside Edinburgh Napier and the University of Abertay Dundee.
This latest proposal from TIGA is the organisation’s latest move in the ongoing debate over the issue of tax breaks for development companies in the UK. It also emphasises TIGA’s focus on Scotland, as a key pioneer in the whole issue.
If you’re unfamiliar with the whole ‘tax breaks’ issue, it can be summarised fairly simply. Many regions around the world – Canada most notably – offer tax incentives to companies creating videogames. Which is why many of the largest studios are located there. The former labour government agreed to the tax breaks, only to have the incoming coalition government rescind it.
Outlining the details of how the fund might be implemented, Tiga suggests that:
- The CCF could provide funding of up to £100,000 to game developers. The CCF should make investment available in the form of matched funding (i.e. pound for pound) repayable contribution in approved game production projects.The CCF would operate on a commercial basis and so would be entitled to recoup the money from recipients out of successful sales of those games once they had generated a certain amount of revenue and over an agreed time period, together with a defined share of the additional profits. These profits could then be used to augment the CCF and applied to future projects.
- The CCF would be entitled to invest in a broad range of game development projects in order to cover both the breath of interactive entertainment content, as well as the wide range of platforms on which such content is distributed.
- The CCF should only invest in projects where the developer owns the IP. The CCF should additionally aim to invest in games that are innovative in terms of content, gameplay and business models.
Scotland’s devolved position within the UK and undoubted expertise within the games industry, makes it a perfect location to consider for this type of fund. Arguably it’s something the UK should at least try, given the large number of regions around the world, which are already offering a variety of tax incentives to interactive companies.
However, it’s important to note that many of these regions offer the incentives to a far broader range of creative organisations, not simply ‘game developers’ (a definition which may well become increasingly meaningless in the future, as the boundaries between areas of the arts and media become increasingly blurred and nebulous.
Scotland’s wider arts and media sectors need love too. A Creative Fund for the country should be just that. A fund for all creative business. The games industry has always suffered from insularity and isolation. Often of its own making.
Technology is now driving games in new and unexpected directions and making interaction and understanding of other areas of the media (and yes, the arts too) a necessity.
The creative industries have been recognised as a key component of Scotland’s economy. Rather than try to ring fence ‘games’ and treat them differently, why not look at supporting the wider creative sector and create an environment in which games – and film, television, music, the arts and the everything else – can flourish and grow?
Here are the quotes:
Colin Anderson, MD of Denki, said:
“TIGA’s Creative Content Fund is a well-considered, practical proposal that addresses the types of funding challenges currently faced by the majority of Scottish games companies. By adopting this policy the Scottish Government would ensure Scotland’s exceptional creative talent develops in a sustainable way for the long-term benefit of the Scottish economy.”
Brian McNicoll, MD Dynamo Games Ltd, said:
“A Creative Content Fund would be extremely useful to Scottish developers who are looking to get innovative gaming ideas off the ground. At the moment there is definitely a funding gap for a new own-IP projects and this would help provide a solution to this problem.”
Paul Farley, CEO of TAG Games:
“This is a good proposal which addresses the finance issue facing games developers beyond the initial start-up and prototype phase.”
Frank Arnot, Studio Director, 4J Studios Ltd:
“Scotland’s game developers have previously demonstrated their creativity and expertise by developing some the world’s most successful video games IP. A Creative Content Fund as proposed by TIGA would provide Scotland’s talented games developers with the opportunity to develop the digital success stories of the future.”
Professor Jessie Kennedy, Director of the Institute of Informatics and Digital Innovation, Edinburgh Napier University:
“Schemes such as the Creative Content Fund are ideal to encourage young entrepreneurs and existing companies to remain in Scotland. Funds like this enable companies to grow, and allow further development and research to occur within Scotland. The Scottish Government has a history of providing support via entities such as Scottish Enterprise, and I hope to see the Creative Content Fund create new talent and jobs within Scotland.”
Paul Durrant, Director of Business Development, Abertay University:
“We are strong supporters of the idea of a Creative Content Fund with a focus on games development in Scotland.”
This is an issue which deserves more discussion and debate. Feel free to leave comments, share on your favourite social network, or join us over on Facebook and tell us what you think.