electronic games


The Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Korea Game Industry Agency have just released the latest whitepaper on the Korean game industry – The Rise of Korean Games 2007.

The document contains industry figures for 2006 (a shame to be just getting this now!) and outlines government policy trends and strategies for the industry. It can be downloaded from the Korean Game Industry Total Information Service System website.

An addendum, the volume does appear to be published mid-2007. It has only just been listed on the GITISS website as of 8 September 2008, so perhaps this publishing date refers to the original Korean language version?

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Just some facts in this post – and apologies for the delay.

According to figures released in April by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian-based game developers received $A116.9 million in revenue over the 2006/07 financial year.

The ABS data indicated that as of June 2007 there were 1,431 employees in the local industry, which indicates considerable growth from 9 months earlier in September 2006 when employees stood at 1,024.

Confirming the status of the industry as a service exporter, ABS figures showed that 92 per cent of developers’ revenue came from non-resident clients over the 2006-07 financial year.

In contrast, sales of game hardware and software in Australia reached A$1.32 billion in 2007, surpassing box office revenue, with software sales accounting for approximately A$750 million of this.

The UK games industry has been vocal throughout the year protesting the inaction of government amid declining domestic production and developers in Canada receiving generous tax incentives.

Yet is it accurate to blame government inaction for the industry’s decline? Some industry participants survey in politics.co.uk article UK games industry ‘dead man walking’ believe it is.

Richard Wilson, Chief executive of Tiga, said: “Without real measures to turn the tide, we’ll see our best people follow the money overseas to where governments are more willing to invest in the future. A great British industry could become a dead man walking, just like the British film industry the before government gave it a tax credit.

Something that is not often mentioned in lobbying for government assistance is the difference in cost of living (and therefore labour costs) between London and several Canadian cities where major game developers have established studios. Regardless of tax concessions and wage subsidies, low living expenses make locations attractive to multinationals, and may also make it easier for employees to setup their own companies.

Tax-based incentives that are based on cultural production are also a highly inefficient instrument for industry to rely on. Assessing the cultural component of any one game to qualify for assistance could well be an arbitrary endeavour, and the stipulation for games to contain cultural content is bound to distort production decisions away from market preferences.

Production-based tax incentives and subsidies tend to appeal to small, independent developers, whereas larger studios particularly first-party studios linked to publishers are far more concerned about the supply of skilled talent.

Are appealing for tax incentives for local producers really the best way to enhance the international competitiveness of the industry?

Australian censors have banned a London-made game for being too violent, according to the London Free Press.

The article has quoted the Board as labeling the game “violent and sometimes gruesome game with a sinister storyline and ominous outcome.”

“The violence and aggression inflicted upon the protagonist is of a high level, naturalistic and not stylized at all.”

With no R18+ rating for games in Australia, it is not surprising that games depicting ‘mature’ scenes are not given a classification. Introducing an R18+ rating for  games (like there is for film and video) would allow adult gamers the freedom to choose, and parents with game-playing children the information not to choose games with explicit violence or mature themes.

An article from the Courier Mail

A very belated Happy New Year!

While nutting out a narrative on Australian game developers lobbying the government for support, in contrast with the Japanese game industry’s disdain for any state involvement, this one from the US was brought to my attention.

Video Game Industry Seeks Political Clout – New York Times

Capitalizing on its improved respectability, the video game industry intends to establish a political action committee to donate money to game-friendly politicians and candidates.

Mr. Gallagher said the PAC would probably donate $50,000 to $100,000 this year to national candidates, an amount he described as commensurate with similar committees associated with the film and music industries. Such political action committees are generally financed personally by industry executives rather than by corporations and under federal law are limited to giving $5,000 to each candidate per election.

Mr. Kotick described the new PAC as “a great first step” but he cautioned that the film and music industries would still enjoy far more sway in Washington than the game industry, not least because “people like Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen help raise millions of dollars for candidates.”

The Greens have offered their support to the games industry in Australia to secure the same tax offsets currently enjoyed by the film industry.

Screenplay blog in The Age quotes Senator Christine Milne from the Greens who met with GDAA president Tom Crago:

“Given the tremendous popularity of interactive computer games, Australia’s games developers would doubtless receive the same community support if only Australians knew how successful they are becoming on the world stage,” she says.

“The interactive games development industry is an excellent example of an innovative, smart industry that Australia should be encouraging, while moving away from the old economic paradigm of ‘dig it up, cut it down and ship it overseas’.

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