Victoria Bos gives her thoughts on the implications of the UK’s newly elected government on the video games industry.
Over the last few years the British video gaming industry has been experiencing unprecedented levels of growth. In the newest research conducted in late 2014 it was estimated that the industry accounted for more than £3.9 billion of consumer spending within the UK and is believed to have generated £2 billion in global sales. Experts believe this is mainly due to the growth of mobile gaming on tablets and smartphones over the last few years, providing the 1902 video games companies in the UK with an innovative new platform and much easier access to the global markets.
With these figures in mind, you may remember that on 7th May this year, the nation went to the polls in order to vote in their choices for the next parliament and thus decide the next government. As it stands, the Conservative party currently have an overall majority of the whole UK with 330 seats, 329 of which are in England, whilst the Scottish National Party (SNP) hold the majority of seats within Scotland (56 of the possible 59 seats) and as such it is likely that these parties, and their policies, will have a huge effect on the UK gaming industry as a whole including its monitoring, protection and encouragement. So, just what does the future hold for the industry under these parties?
The Conservatives have promised to continue to pursue many of the policies they placed down under the previous Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition. This includes tax credits and relief for the video games industry, as well as other creative sectors, in order to help ensure a greater profit for the businesses which can then be reinvested. They have also promised to continue to protect the intellectual property rights of gaming manufacturers by continuing to require internet providers to block proxy and torrent sites containing large quantities of illegal data to be downloaded, ensuring consumers have to purchase a game if they wish to play it. This helps to support the creator, as well as insuring their work is recognised as their own. This will be combined with the continued voluntary anti-piracy scheme to educate consumers about when they might be breaking copyright law and the possible consequences of those actions.
In Scotland the SNP also have ideas of how they are going to support their ever growing industry. The party’s press officer has stated they are backing the idea of creating a Creative Content Fund for the gaming industry there, in order to help support the creation of new studios and have also promised to retain the current tax relief schemes the industry is afforded. They have also stated that they back the industry’s calls for an increase in the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, to help attract foreign investors, and support proposed changes to the Shortage Occupation List to recognise the specific skills needed for the sector and ensure a well-qualified workforce.
So, having seen these promises, it would appear that the industry is going to receive a great deal of support across the UK. With the tax credits and piracy schemes already in place, we mainly have to focus on the promises of what is to come. Of course, these are just promises and we will have to wait and see whether Scotland receives the devolved powers it needs to follow their proposals through and, as is always the way with politics, we cannot predict what may be proposed in Westminster over the next 5 years and the effects it will have.