Globally, the video-games business is expected to reach US$82.4bn in revenues by 2015 and, if Ireland plays its cards right, it could double its employment in core games activities to 4,500 people.
A new report from Forfás highlighted the continuing transition of the video games business to online and mobile distribution channels resulting in US$82.4bn in revenues by 2015.
It says Ireland has the potential to more than double its employment in core games activities to 4,500 people if actions are taken to position Ireland as one of the most progressive and digitally advanced business environments.
The study was prepared at the request of Richard Bruton, TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and in co-ordination with Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland.
“This Government has identified digital games as a target with particularly high potential for jobs growth in the coming years,” said Bruton.
“The global industry is predicted to be worth US$82bn by 2015, and we in Ireland could create jobs in the sector for an extra 2,500 within three years.
“That is why I asked Forfás to prepare a plan outlining specific actions that Government can take to ensure that we take full advantage of this potential. I am determined to work hard with my colleagues across Government to deliver on this plan and ensure that the digital games sector can make a real contribution to growing jobs again.”
Actions to grow Ireland’s video-games sector
The report identifies opportunities for Ireland in a number of areas, including creative game development, advanced game services, enabling software and technology solutions and the exploitation of intellectual property (IP). Actions to support this potential focus on six key areas:
· Develop an international cluster – by stimulating connectedness between related sectors, nationally and internationally.
· Enhance skills and experience – by addressing short-term needs and building a continuous feed-stock of creative, technological and commercial capabilities.
· Accelerate growth in creative content development – by attracting and developing the talent pool – creating the dynamic environment.
· Build international visibility – by raising Ireland’s visibility as a vibrant location for the games sector.
· Drive R&D and innovation – by incentivising innovation within Irish-based firms, anticipating future needs.
· Deliver next-generation broadband – by underpinning future growth with the provision of widely available, competitively priced advanced broadband services to homes and businesses.
The digital economy imperative
“The potential for this sector is immense, with potential job gains of 2,500 by end 2014 across a range of activities, including games servicing and development,” Martin Shanahan, chief executive, Forfás.
“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.
“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,” Shanahan added.
Building a globally competitive games sector
The chief executive of Enterprise Ireland Frank Ryan said Ireland has not only attracted some of the sector’s major global players but it has also home-grown companies that have achieved global recognition, including Havok, Demonware and Jolt Online, along with a new strong cluster of content-related games start-ups.
“With a truly connected digital cluster and the right business environment, we can tap into the commitment and energy of innovative enterprises to maximise the potential of this exciting digital sector,” Ryan said.
In recent years and months, Ireland has been compiling a who’s who in terms of the global games publishing giants, including Activision, EA Games, BioWare, Big Fish Games, Goa Games, Vivendi and more.
“In addition to a worldwide reputation for innovation, creativity and technology, there are many tangible reasons why Ireland will succeed further in the games sector,” said IDA Ireland chief executive Barry O’Leary.
“The depth of our competencies in areas such as software engineering, wireless and internet technologies, global customer relationship management, localisation and analytics allied with a pro-business environment means that Ireland has all the key ingredients for growth,” O’Leary said.