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ELSPA becomes UKIE – but what do they do, and how does TIGA fit in?

By on September 8, 2010

I went to the UKIE launch party last night.

UKIE logo

UKIE is the new ELSPA. I’m not a big fan of the new name but the change – from a focus on boxed product publishers to a more inclusive approach to all types for video game – is welcome.

Richard Wilson of TIGA was at the party. It’s good to see the two industry bodies getting along. But do we need two trade bodies for the games industry, and what do they do?

A tale of two trade bodies

Last year, I said “Time to end the dangerous split between ELSPA and Tiga?” My post was triggered by the news that developer Frontier had joined publisher-organisation ELSPA, and that in this world of self-publishing the split was no longer irrelevant. Indeed, I argued it was positively dangerous for the UK industry.

Ian Baverstock, then chairman of TIGA and MD of Kuju and now a business angel at Tenshi Ventures, rebutted my argument. He said: 

The differences between Tiga and Elspa and their respective memberships are real. The split isn’t ‘dangerous’; it’s healthy.

Developers are very different from Publishers in this context.

Tiga remains an organisation representing UK companies that have global market focus; Elspa is mostly an organisation representing global companies that have (in Elspa’s case) a UK specific market focus. Therefore Tiga is focused on global business issues and those specifically allowing us to compete internationally like overseas subsidies and the supply of skilled staff. Elspa remains more focused on a domestic market agenda.

This totally convinced me. The idea that ELSPA’s role was essentially domestic – representing the interest of domestic and international publishers in the UK market – and TIGA’s was global – helping companies based in the UK to have global success – seemed like a clear distinction to me.

ELSPA could (and did) focus on domestic issues like piracy, age ratings and defending publishers against “Death By PlayStation” accusations in sensationalist tabloids.

TIGA focused on “making the UK the best place to do games business” by focusing on tax breaks, skills shortages and helping developers reach overseas.

Both worked to raise the UK games industry’s profile and reputation with politicians and the media.

So what now?

I’m not sure. That distinction still makes sense to me: for UKIE to be focused on helping companies do business IN the UK and TIGA to help companies do business FROM the UK.

I’m sure both bodies will work to raise the games industry profile, and that is great. I was very pleased to see TIGA at the UKIE launch event.

I no longer think it makes sense for TIGA and UKIE to merge; I do think it makes sense for them to identify the areas where they can each add most value, focus on those individually, and work together to promote the UK games industry.

I hope they think so too.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: