Irish game industry could double in size by 2014

A new report from Forfás, Ireland's policy advisory board for enterprise and science, has laid out a plan to double the size of the Irish game industry’s workforce within three years.

The report [PDF], Games Sector In Ireland: An Action Plan for Growth, says the Irish game industry currently directly employs 2,000 people, up five-fold since 2004, but that the number could grow to 4,500 by the end of 2014 if the government offers appropriate support for the sector.

Speaking at the report’s publication, Irish prime minister Enda Kenny labelled the domestic industry’s potential “phenomenal”, according to the Irish Times. While he didn’t offer any details about potential tax breaks that could be offered to drive growth, he said Ireland’s tax position spoke for itself when it came to foreign direct investment.

“What the Forfás report sets out is the creation of a real cluster of excellence here for the games industry,” Kenny said. “This target is achievable and government are taking a real interest in this, and will respond to initiatives to improve the general environment for this business to flourish in the time ahead.

“This industry is on the way up and the government is determined to ensure that Ireland becomes a recognised cluster for gaming companies that will attract more and further investment. We see this as a key priority growth area for Ireland because it draws on many of our core strengths.”

Last month, BioWare opened its first non-US facility in Galway, Ireland to offer round the clock customer support for Star Wars: The Old Republic. The customer service centre was initially expected to employ 200 staff, but BioWare said that figure will rise to 400 in time for the MMO's Christmas release.

"We have been working hard over the past number of years to make this a sector that Ireland can be proud of and it feels like that is now happening. As a sector – both indigenous companies and foreign investors – we have been speaking with government about how they can support the vibrant games industry in Ireland. Today’s launch really feels like they have listened," PopCap's general manager for Europe Paul Breslin told us.

"[Today's] standard of graduates isn't high enough, especially in maths and computer science," Interactive Games Association of Ireland CEO David Sweeney added when we asked him if the report's recomendations were adequate. "We're very happy with the recommendations, and we were closely consulted during the report's construction. This is a great step along the way, but we now want to see the government deliver a game sector package built around the report."

For our latest Region Specific feature we visited Dublin to find out how the city’s finest development talent is bucking global financial trends.

Source: Irish Times