The government has launched a £4m fund to help the gaming industry support startups in the sector. Over the next four years, the Video Games Prototype Fund will offer grants of £25,000 to support different projects.
The aim is for the money to help turn ideas into reality, allowing smaller firms to make global gaming blockbusters, and should also create new jobs within the industry.
Ed Vaizey, minister for culture and the digital economy, said: “Britain’s video games punch well above their weight internationally and we need to build on this and invest in the strength of our creativity.”
He added that the fund should give “small businesses, startups and individuals the support they need to better attract private investment and go on to create the blockbusters of tomorrow”.
The fund will be administered from offices in Dundee and London.
The video game industry has become more of a focal point for the government in recent years – in 2014, the European Commission approved tax relief measures for developers, following a six-year campaign to win relief. Under the policy game makers can claim discounts on up to 25 per cent of a game’s production costs. The sector currently generates more than £4.5m a day for the economy and directly employs more than 19,000 people.
British gaming industry veteran, Ian Livingstone, pointed out that the UK has “a long history of developing world-class video games”. As well as Tomb Raider, which Livingstone developed, the likes of Monument Valley, Grand Theft Auto, Little Black Planet and Moshi Monsters have all gone on to make “a significant cultural and economic global impact”.
Now the new package will include grants to help new and young games development businesses create working prototype games and up to £50,000 for a limited number of projects to take their ideas beyond the prototype phase. There will also be talent development initiatives, including competitions for students and graduate teams to create and showcase new games, mentoring for businesses and individuals, and opportunities for talented individuals to work on games prototype projects.
The fund will build upon a previous UK government-supported scheme run by Abertay University for four years from 2010, helping Scottish companies such as Blazing Griffin.
Peter van der Watt, founder of Blazing Griffin, said it “came at exactly the right time for us in terms of building the team and portfolio”.
“This support and the confidence the grant provided was instrumental in us securing significant additional working capital for the company.”
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