United We Stand? • Page 2

Calls to merge UKIE and TIGA ignore the fact that the industry is becoming more diverse.

Yet if you're operating a browser-based MMO or a freemium game on a social network, what concern of yours is piracy? Certainly, you probably feel some solidarity with your peers in other corners of the industry whose businesses are damaged by piracy - but on a day to day basis it doesn't matter a damn to you. It's simply not your concern, because your business model neatly sidesteps the question of consumers illicitly accessing your wares. On the other hand, you may well be very worried about ideas like net neutrality or strict bandwidth capping, which stand to impact your profits or your ability to reach consumers - but these are questions which other businesses in the industry haven't given the slightest thought to.

Similarly, are we really to believe that a collective of three or four bedroom coders and artists turning out indie titles on Steam or the App Store really share a great number of concerns with a multinational publisher creating monolithic, 50 boxed games for the Xbox 360 - especially at a time when those publishers more and more frequently find themselves concerned that bite-sized gaming experiences are eating into the gaming budgets (both financial and temporal) of their consumers?

Is it credible to claim that a publisher with a clearly defined business strategy of outsourcing development work to low-cost markets in Asia or Eastern Europe shares common cause with UK firms providing artistic talent to game developers? Does a company that's spent a decade cultivating its physical distribution business stand comfortably on the same platform as one whose entire business model revolves around giving away games for free on the internet? Can a platform holder which insists on acting as a gatekeeper for content on its devices claim solidarity with the small companies to whom it denies access?

Of course there will always be areas in which the interests of such disparate firms overlap. Nobody wants to see videogames being used as a punching bag by politicians or tabloid journalists, for example, and everyone would like to see more development talent being cultivated by the UK's education system. Yet even on a seemingly consensus issue such as the tax regime, there are splits within the industry - most notably between local developers and certain (not all) multinational publishers.

In light of this fragmented landscape, it's almost miraculous that this wide range of interests can be effectively represented by two major trade bodies - let alone by one. The traditional definition of "publisher" and "developer" may be blurring, but not because of a blending within the industry - rather, because more and more fault lines are breaking up the clear divides of the past.

So while it's perfectly sensible and rational to suggest that TIGA and UKIE should find common cause, it's a step too far to suggest that the bodies should merge. The overlap between their members will continue to grow, in numbers if not actually in terms of proportion - but there will, for the foreseeable future, be a large number of companies for whom a single unified trade body could not effectively represent their views. It's hard to see a situation in which the creation of a merged trade body would not result, within a few years, in the formation of a new alliance to represent those companies left out in the cold by the merger - which would begin the whole dance again. If TIGA did not exist, in other words, we would be forced to invent it.

Is this a problem for negotiations with government? Arguably, yes - but not an insurmountable one. Good relations between the trade bodies and a unified front in the face of common-cause issues are achievable and have, indeed, been achieved on a number of occasions in the recent past. A single body would be a neat solution, but it would also be a dishonest one - our industry is an increasingly complex one, and that complexity can't just be swept under the carpet for the sake of political or operational expediency.

If you work in the games industry and want more views, and up-to-date news relevant to your business, read our sister website GamesIndustry.biz, where you can find this weekly editorial column as soon as it is posted.

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