Insights TIGA publishes 10-point manifesto

The Independent Game Developers’ Association (“TIGA”) has published a 10-point manifesto for 2024, calling upon the next UK Government to enable the video games sector to “achieve its potential and support economic growth across the UK”.

Among its proposals is a call for the introduction of a new Independent Games Tax Credit (“IGTC”) modelled on the Independent Film Tax Credit that was announced earlier this year (and on which we commented here). The proposed IGTC would mean that games with production budgets of less than £15 million (excluding marketing and distribution costs) would be eligible to claim a credit of 53% on 80% of qualifying expenditure. Those projects over £15 million in total production costs would use the existing Video Games Expenditure Credit (“VGEC”) which TIGA argues must be retained.

TIGA also proposes the establishment of a National Games Accelerator (“NGA”) to support early-stage companies to prepare prototypes, develop commercial models, and attract investment. It suggests that this would either be wholly paid for by Government or that the relevant administering agency takes a small equity stake in participating companies, allowing the NGA to recoup its costs. To support training and strengthen relationships between education and industry, TIGA also proposes the setting up of an Industrial Secondments Programme which would see lecturers from colleges and universities spend time in games development businesses. It also advocates maintaining BTECs and developing T-Levels for the games industry and for the Government to incentive SME studios to invest more in training by re-establishing a Skills Investment Fund or introducing a Training Tax Relief.

In addition to early-stage companies benefitting from additional training, TIGA also proposes ways for them to secure funding, highlighting the fact that relatively few sources of funding are available for between £150,000 and £500,000. This so-called ‘finance gap’, TIGA argues, holds many companies back, leading to many businesses selling their studios or intellectual property before they have had a chance to grow. To address this problem, TIGA proposes that the UK Games Fund’s Prototype Fund and Content Fund should continue to be supported, but also be bolstered by a new Video Games Investment Fund. This would provide up to 20 loans per year of between £150,000 and £500,000 to games developers in the UK for one or two games development projects per company with repayment terms over four years.

Ensuring that the industry has a supply of talented and highly skilled workers is a theme that runs throughout the manifesto. As well as recommending various initiatives to improve training, TIGA draws attention to the shortcomings of the existing apprenticeship levy insofar as there are only two game-specific programmes. It proposes that the levy is transformed into a ‘general training levy’ so that “employers can spend the money on any high quality training programmes”. It also calls for a more competitive visa and salary system for the recruitment of skilled overseas workers. Finally, TIGA issues a call for the Competition and Markets Authority to “be alert to the risks of anti-competitive practices and encourage competition in both the game engine and platform markets”.

Commenting on the launch of the manifesto, the CEO of TIGA, Dr Richard Wilson OBE, said:

TIGA’s goal is to make the UK the best place in the world to develop video games. The UK is already a leader for games development and employs the largest development workforce in Europe.

“If the next Government and Parliament create an environment favourable to our sector, then the UK games development sector can win a growing share of the games development market. A successful video games industry will support high skill employment, regional games clusters and export growth.

“TIGA’s manifesto sets out an agenda to enable our games development sector to achieve its potential, and increase its contribution to the UK economy. Our proposals relating to a new Independent Games Tax Credit, a National Games Accelerator and the Video Games Investment Fund alone could create 2,660 additional high skill games development jobs by 2028. We look forward to working with Government, Parliament and other stakeholders to drive our industry forward.

The manifesto can be read in full here.