Project helping Scotland’s creative industry to up its game

Published: 22 May 2018

A pioneering project focusing on how to use intellectual property (IP) to sustain and grow the videogame industry in Scotland has been launched by the Adam Smith Business School and the School of Computing Science.

IP video game industry project

A pioneering project focusing on how to use intellectual property (IP) to sustain and grow the videogame industry in Scotland has been launched.
The project investigates how more Scottish independent videogame development businesses can evolve and use their own creative ideas and concepts for games, developing their own IP that can underpin business growth and benefit the Scottish economy.
Researchers at the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School and the School of Computing Science are bringing together videogame developers, industry bodies, policy makers and support organisations to identify what influences the successful development of IP and where the barriers are. They will use this to inform future support and policy.
There is a tradition of videogame developers undertaking a work-for-hire, subcontractor-based business model. This is often viewed as a barrier to success, as it is project-based, involves little or no proprietary IP and has limited possibilities for building value in a business.
Many firms would prefer an IP-based model, where the developer owns the IP, and is responsible for commercialising it, thereby creating more value. However, for the smaller developers, changing to an IP business model can be challenging.
Principal Investigator, Professor Colin Mason, Professor Of Entrepreneurship, said: “The videogames industry has always been a highly entrepreneurial sector with a healthy level of start-up activity. However, not enough videogame companies are scaling-up. It has been suggested that the IP model can enable such businesses to achieve value and scale. But most do not know enough about this process. Our recent research shows that small videogame development businesses can adopt the IP model, but for them to sustain this is challenging and firms often continue the use of work-for-hire alongside the IP model. This project provides an opportunity to learn more about the realities of the IP model and identify the factors that help and hinder its successful adoption. Our findings can be used to inform future support provision and policy for the videogames industry in Scotland.”

This investigation into how an IP model can be adopted and sustained by Scottish videogame developers also contributes to the broader issue of how small development companies can scale-up and strengthen the wider industry ecosystem.

Leading developer and publisher of games for the web, Ninja Kiwi, and Blazing Griffin, a digital entertainment company, are both taking part in the project, along with mobile games publisher All 4 Games, a spin-out from Channel 4. In a series of workshops in Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh these and other companies will share their experiences of trying the IP model to highlight the factors that contribute to success and failure. The outputs from the workshops and meetings will be shared with industry, academia and Government to better understand how the IP model can be used by videogame development businesses, and in turn, support business growth in Scotland.

 Dr Matthew Barr, Co-Investigator on the project said: “We think it’s important for videogame developers – particularly start-up companies – to know about the business models available to them, and developing new IP is a particularly attractive option. However, lots of external factors can affect success, including market forces and the availability of funding and investment. We must also consider the internal factors that games companies will need to address if they are to succeed with their own IP, including the IP-related skills, knowledge and experience of the development and management teams.

“It’s also important to understand how the work-for-hire model and the IP model can be used together to support company growth, and ensure that developers – and their funders – are aware of the possibilities and associated challenges. This project aims to reach not only established games development companies, but also those bodies involved in supporting, funding and educating the next generation of games start-ups.”

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First published: 22 May 2018

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