Stakes are high in global market worth €55bn
Published 16/11/2012 | 05:00
FROM little things, big things grow. Make no mistake, the games sector in this country is tiny relative to our wider tech industry.
But it has massive potential in a worldwide market estimated at €55bn in the coming year.
We have a strong multinational sector attracted no doubt by our corporate tax rate and pool of graduates, with game giants such as EA recently pouring hundreds of jobs into Galway and Activision employing 700 in Cork.
Many multinational jobs, however, are in support and localisation as opposed to game development.
Others are in "middleware" – the technological building blocks of games – such as Havoc and Demonware, both Irish-born companies later bought by Intel and Activision respectively.
However, Ireland can't compete with the likes of Canada which offers massive tax breaks to multinationals and EU legislation means we're not much more attractive than Britain or France.
As Paul Hayes, communications director with industry lobby group Games Ireland, points out: "What we need now are indigenous companies making games from start to finish."
At a time when the cost of building blockbuster games runs in to the tens of millions, Hayes nonetheless says there is a big opportunity for the exploding markets of smartphones and tablets. A small team of two or three developers can code an app that reaches an audience of hundreds of millions of iPhone and Android users.
If – and it’s a big if – they can overcome the challenge of getting noticed among the hundreds of thousands of apps on the market, the potential for profit and growth is staggering. Most app developers, though, make a pittance and the hits often rely as much on luck and timing as on sheer brilliance.
We should take comfort from the fact the global videogames pie is getting bigger and, with the right promotion and Government support, Ireland can grab a larger slice for itself.