Video game industry: Italy is growing, the Tax Credit is just the beginning

We talked about it with Talita Malagò, General Manager of IIDEA, the trade association

Video game industry in Italy: a lot has changed in recent years, and the workforce employed has grown in numbers and professionalism. However, there is still a lot to do to make video games as rich as the rest of the world. We talked about it with Talita Malagò, General Manager of IIDEA, the trade association of the video game industry in Italy. Malagò attended the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco with a selection of Italian developers last month: “Thanks to the Italian consulate in San Francisco we had the opportunity to organize an event at Innovi, a new center for Italian culture that was opened thanks to the contribution of the government a few months ago We were the first sector to be hosted in presence in this space, with the presence of an exceptional guest star: John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity. We have found a great willingness and investment interest from publishers towards Italian software houses, right now there are excellent possibilities. The feedback we have received from the publishers is great, they have seen great creativity and innovation in the projects we have presented. “

In the report on the video game industry in Italy published recently by IIDEA, it is denoted an increase in the female share of gamers, 44 percent of the total. We asked Malagò if this is also reflected from the employment point of view in the sector. “We have a growing presence of female professionals in the video game sector, but as employees who work in production companies. From an entrepreneurial point of view they are still few. We have calculated that there is 23 per cent working in production, mainly concentrated in the artistic area and in that of management and support, in particular marketing, PR, communication and events. Compared to Europe, where women make up 17 per cent of the entire workforce in this industry, this is a significant figure. The presence of women in video games in Italy is growing and is giving great value at all levels of the supply chain “.

Although the institutions are moving with facilities such as Tax Credit to meet the sector in our country, the direction is to achieve the commitment of other European countries in the creation of video games. “Over the last few years, the perception of Italy as a video game producing country has changed“, comments Malagò.” Until recently Italy was considered a consumer country, among the top five European markets. Thanks to important acquisitions of Italian development studios by international players, Italy has begun to be seen as a producer and developer. In addition, several Italian developers have been committed to making triple A games for PCs and consoles over the past decade, reaching the international market. Surely the greater interest of the institutions that we have registered at various levels also contributes to keeping the country system a little more interesting even in the eyes of international investors. There is still a lot to do: our association worked on the Tax Credit front, obtaining the implementing decree of this measure at the end of last year after several years from the approval of the Cinema Law which had already recognized the measure as applicable to video games. “.

“This year the financial envelope went from 5 million euros last year to 11 million, which are able to potentially attract investments for 40 million euros, because the Tax Credit covers 25 percent of production costs “, continues the President of IIDEA.” We need to understand how this measure will work practically: we hope it will be practical, effective and fast, and that companies can count on this support. If you want to create an industry of the size of other countries, surely the funds available are not sufficient: at the moment we have a ceiling of one million euros per company, and if we consider other countries such as Ireland where we are talking about 25 million euros per production, it is clear that it is not enough to compete. As an association we have also worked on creation of a prototype fund, the First Playable Found, introduced by the relaunch decree in 2020. There were a lot of applications for the call last year, when IIDEA was in charge of the implementation. We are waiting to understand if it will be proposed again in the future: in our opinion this must become a structural intervention on the sector, complementary to the Tax Credit as it provides non-repayable instruments “.

Relations with local administrations also played their role: “We believe that the video game sector can contribute to the fabric of entrepreneurial development in the territories“, says Malagò.” This year two vertical acceleration programs on gaming started, one in Rome, the Cinecittà Game Hub promoted by Cinecittà with the Lazio Region and the Ministry of Culture, and the other in Bologna in collaboration with the municipality and the region . Both programs are based on the assumption that we must make our Italian video game developers, often endowed with great talent, real entrepreneurs who know how to compare themselves in a very competitive and fast international market. The programs provide funding to complete prototyping work and provide a training program. “As for training, something is moving in universities due to the growing demand for specialized courses related to video game development and production.”In recent years there has been a great growth in the creation of courses related to game development, but above all by private schools and academies. On the part of the public universities it must be said that there are several that have been following the sector for some time and taking courses, but there has not been much new. However, what interests us is not so much the quantity of courses as the quality, and the ability to relate to companies. The right perspective is that of synergy between all these players in training to create an offer that is in line with the evolution of the market “.

Another growing sector that requires further work to improve and achieve European goals is that of Esports. “We believe that Italy has all the credentials to become a country capable of attracting international events”, explains the Director. “Compared to other countries, however, we suffer from very restrictive legislation which is that for prize events, which places a series of limitations on the organization of Esports events on our territory. We have started a dialogue with the Ministry of Economic Development to understand if there is a way to adapt to the conditions that exist in other countries and that have allowed the sector to explode. There is no doubt that from the point of view of the skills and maturity of our operators and teams we are ready to attract high level sponsorships and events from the international public. “IIDEA recently announced the fourth edition of First Playable, the most important business to business event for the gaming industry at national level, which will take place at the Arsenali Repubblicani in Pisa from 5 to 8 July 2022. “The event is the first in attendance after the break, and will also be broadcast in streaming”, explains Malagò. “The goal is to bring people to meet on a physical level: there will be talks, meetings with international buyers and we will have the Italian Videogame Awards in the same setting, a moment of celebration of the Italian productions that we have merged with First Playable precisely to create a 360 degree showcase. The first signs we see from international publishers are positive, there is a lot of excitement and a lot of availability so we hope that our developers will be ready for this opportunity “.