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Maintaining the Strength of the UK Video Games Industry

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MODERN WARFARE THREE
MW3

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 took more than $775 million in its first five days on sale. Angry Birds has been downloaded more than 500 million times.

Anyone who thinks video games are a niche industry is totally out of date. This is an industry that has grown to rival any entertainment business. And it's an area where the UK has some of the most talented and successful developers in the world.

People claim Britain doesn't make anything anymore. We do - we just don't make the same products as we did in the past. One of our great strengths is our creative industries. All over the world people enjoy music, books, films, TV programmes and video games created in the UK.

Batman: Arkham City is one of the highest rated games of the year and it was developed by London-based Rocksteady Studios. The Grand Theft Auto series has topped well over 100 million sales and was created by Rockstar North in Edinburgh. These are just two of the most high profile successes of the UK video games industry.

Our job in government is to help create the right conditions for this important sector to grow and thrive, to ensure the UK can remain at the forefront of this global business. Cutting corporation tax, improving the support for new and high-growth businesses, making the tax incentives for investing more widely applicable are examples of the actions we have taken to help industry grow.

There is undoubtedly more to do but addressing the sector's key issues is not something the government can do on its own. Access to finance is a critical issue for the video games companies. They need funding to be able to grow, they need investment if they are to expand.

The government set up the Creative Industries Council to give the whole sector a voice and to look at issues that affecting the whole industry. Accessing finance is high on its agenda. Eidos Life President Ian Livingstone is leading a detailed look at the problem for the Council.

But there is already plenty going on to help firms find the investment they need to grow. This week I went to NESTA's (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) second 'speed dating' event, which brings together potential investors and games developers. This is an excellent event that helps both sides better understand each other. Companies and individuals are more likely to invest if they understand the business and if the creative knows how to provide the right information. They need to talk each other's language.

This week also sees the launch of a new competition offering four £25,000 prizes to games developers to build a prototype. The competition is being run by Abertay University and the Technology Strategy Board along with industry body TIGA.

The competition will help take four ideas from the drawing board to a prototype to help them secure further investment. It sits alongside Abertay's existing Prototype Fund, which offers grants of up to £25,000 to develop a prototype for games projects and other types of interactive digital content.

The video games industry is a real UK success story and I want to see that continue. We need all sides working together - games companies, investors, government, academics - to ensure our video games continue to be played around the world.

Around the Web

Video game industry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

News, events, research and jobs from the games industry | MCV

GamesIndustry.biz - games industry news, features, and jobs.

UK Videogames Tax Break - Summary | Article - GamesIndustry.biz

TIGA | UK Games Industry

BBC News - Fund 'would boost Scottish video games industry'