Ireland Prime Minister Enda Kenny announced this week a comprehensive plan to attract more game development companies to the country by means of flexible incentive packages. Newly formed trade organization Games Ireland supports the move and hopes it will change the culture of games development in the country. "All the biggest brands in the world are almost here now," Games Ireland's communications director Paul Hayes told GamesIndustry.biz. "We just need to change the narrative and the types of projects they're doing. A lot of them are here in a support function."
A government report published yesterday by Forfas highlighted areas that the government is willing to look at when it comes to incentives such as tax breaks, and project grants. Hayes says that the proposed packages would be fluid, and heavily dependent on the needs of each company seeking to obtain them.
"The industry is evolving so fast that we kind of have to stay flexible in terms of the package of incentives that might work, and almost individually tailor them," he said. "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 focused on games with a bit of a laser beam."
GI.biz notes that that many large game companies were in attendance at a Dublin launch event, including SCEE, Microsoft, Nintendo, Activision Blizzard and EA. Hayes said their input will be vital to the government's plans.
"The video game industry is the most dynamic player in today's entertainment industry. Its unique mixture of creativity, technology, interactivity and fun gives it a head start on the competition," added Games Ireland CEO David Sweeney in an official statement. "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 Forfas 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."
The Forfas report identifies six key opportunities for Ireland including developing an "international cluster," enhancing skills and experience by addressing short term needs, attracting and developing a talent pool, building international visibility for the country, incentivizing research and development efforts with Irish based firms, and delivering next generation broadband.
"Games can also be a catalyst for growth in a host of other related activities in the digital economy including social networks, search engines, animation, film and video and e-learning," says Martin Shanahan, chief executive of Forfas. "Success for Ireland in the games sector, however, is not a given and will require a step-change in policy and decisive action. The digital economy, of which the games sector is a pioneering force, is different: the sheer pace of change within it, the confluence of creativity, technology and commercial acumen, the revolutionised business models and novel monetisation strategies, the integral role that the customer plays in innovation, and the shifting dynamics through partnerships, mergers and acquisitions."
It demands a more anticipatory, agile and responsive approach to meet its future needs. Effective implementation of the actions outlined in our report will provide companies with the right environment not just for the games sector but in the wider digital economy," he added.
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