In a statement that may worry current and future Irish gaming developers, organiser of the annual Games Fleadh at LIT Tipperary’s Thurles campus, Seamus Hoyne, warned the Irish market is heading towards saturation point.
Only a few days after Ericsson released its report describing the massive future the gaming world will see in the coming years, Hoyne, as head of the department of technology and flexible learning at LIT Tipperary, feels that the market Ireland inhibits is growing increasingly crowded as the months and years go on.
With the enormous growth in mobile gaming through smartphones, a number of gaming start-ups are looking to create their own apps which they hope to become the next big viral hit.
However, according to Hoyne, there could be a crash, similar to the one seen 30 years ago with gaming consoles, coming in the foreseeable future.
“We are now verging on the same problem again because there are so many games, across so many platforms. There is huge optimism for game developing here because of the undisputed raw talent but companies need to really stand out if they are to succeed in this very crowded space today.
“What is not helping them is the level of specific industry support available here and that is largely why Ireland has not had a big international hit in games development. Marketing has been a particular weakness. When you are a start-up company, ordinarily you have a local market to break but not in this sector. Therefore, we need specific supports for start-ups but, regrettably, don’t have them.”
Another figure in agreement is Stephen Byrne of game development company exgamers Studios. He said Ireland is falling embarrassingly short in terms of the stated ambition in the 2011 Forfás Action Plan for growth in the industry by 2015.
“Ireland has delivered in servicing but not in games development. We are way behind here in terms of the goals of the action plan for the sector,” said Byrne.
“We can make games to beat the band but where we have trouble is on the marketing side. Our market is not Ireland but Asia and the US. As a company, we are fortunate in that we have a publisher now but a lot of game developers don’t get that far.”
The Games Fleadh, sponsored by Microsoft, is the leading annual Irish gathering for up-and-coming computer game programmers.
Yesterday’s event was attended by more than 200 of the country’s young programmers and games developers, as well as representatives of leading companies in the digital gaming industry.