Game over for UK games industry?

Lack of corporate ambition and investment and poor availability of broadband are dragging British games industry down, warns report from Demos
Written by Jane Wakefield, Contributor

Britain is in danger of losing its edge in the global games industry as investment flounders and broadband remains too expensive, warns thinktank Demos.

Gaming, once an alternative industry in which programs were designed in bedrooms by entrepreneurial self-starters, resulting in the huge success of games like Tomb Raider and Gremlins, is giving way to a lack of ambition, says the report.

Surfing the Long Wave looks at British creative industries including gaming. Co-author Kate Oakley believes the lack of corporate ambition may now be the biggest threat to the British games industry. "Too few of the British companies have ambitions to become solid companies. As a result the industry is unlikely to attract sustained investment," said Oakley.

This is a far cry from the glory days of gaming, Oakley claimed. "These people were mostly self-taught and had a real entrepreneurial flair that got the industry moving and made Britain a leader in games software design," she said. "In many cases their motivation for forming their own companies is to avoid working for big corporations."

Without this ambition the UK will not sustain its enviable position as a leader in the games industry. Lack of investment and management experience are factors, and the slow take-up of broadband in the UK must also take a share of the blame.

"In the knowledge economy the only piece of infrastructure that really matters is telecommunications," claimed Chris Van Der Kuyl of Scottish games firm Vis Interactive. "And right now it's crap because it is too expensive."

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