Game on: Ireland’s digital games sector gets ready for growth

By IDA Ireland

Ireland’s digital gaming sector has been building steadily and now, the combination of a new incentive for developers together with exciting industry names could be the catalyst for further growth, in an industry that’s at the forefront of popular culture.

Could Ireland’s tax credit for digital games do for the industry what Section 481 relief did for the movie business?

Many in the gaming sector think the scheme could be the catalyst for further investment and activity in a sector that’s been building steadily over recent years. In 2022, Black Shamrock, the company behind some of the world’s most popular action-adventure games for PCs and consoles, announced it would grow its Dublin studio into a 200-strong team.

The year before, League of Legends developer Riot Games chose Dublin as its first global remote broadcast and content production centre, dedicated to esports. It’s a strategic addition to the company’s existing EMEA HQ in Ireland. Other well-known industry names with a presence in Ireland include EA Games and Demonware, while Keywords Studios is a service provider to many other games companies.
“Digital gaming is a priority sector for IDA Ireland. We are committed to supporting new businesses wishing to expand into Ireland, taking advantage of the business-friendly environment, skilled workforce, and strategic location on offer to multinationals,” says James Farrell, senior vice-president of consumer and digital technology with the agency.

Rounding out the ecosystem are third-level institutes producing graduates with skills suited to the sector, while there’s also a vibrant community of homegrown games companies and startups. “There are a lot of small indie developers in Ireland, trying to make a business out of making games and there are also good community groups like the Games Co-Op in Dublin, Game Craft and Galway Game Jam,” says Alanna Kelly, co-founder of Galway Game Jam and board member of Imirt, an association for Irish digital games makers which was among the groups that campaigned for the tax credit.

In 1997, the Irish Government introduced Section 481 to incentivise film and TV, animation and creative documentary production. The credit helped to attract projects to Ireland, including the Oscar-winning movies Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan. Crucially, this production activity helped to hone the skills of Irish-based creators, who learned their craft by working on these projects. The digital gaming sector believes its tax credit could lead to a similar outcome as people build up their knowledge and expertise through exposure to top-class developers and titles.

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