Interview

TIGA membership pays for itself 'within months', claims Neon Play CEO Oli Christie

TIGA membership pays for itself 'within months', claims Neon Play CEO Oli Christie
For Neon Play CEO Oli Christie, being appointed to the board UK trade association TIGA is something of a career highlight.

That's not to say Christie isn't acutely aware of the body's critics, who have recently claimed TIGA's membership fees and decision to charge non-members for guides goes against the sense of community enjoyed by indies.

In his view, however, TIGA can only continue to exist if it charges its members, and for those who do stump up the cash will feel the benefit in the monetary sense within a matter of months.

We tackled Oli for what he plans to bring to TIGA as the association faces up to fans and foe alike.

Pocket Gamer: How did the appointment to TIGA's board come about?

Oli Christie: I got a call from TIGA top dog Richard Wilson, who asked me if I wanted to join the board as he felt that I might be able to contribute with my learnings of starting a mobile games studio.

I guess the fact that Neon Play has had some good initial success and press coverage probably helped as well.

What do you consider TIGA's role is within the industry to be?

It is to help support and grow the UK games industry, which I think it does incredibly well on very limited budgets and staffing in increasingly challenging times.

What do you plan to bring to the table yourself?

I really hope that I can pass on any experiences and learnings I've had from setting up and growing a mobile games studio over the past two years.

It's a very fast moving market, and hopefully by having someone who is 100 percent focused on mobile gaming will help bring a different angle to the board.

TIGA's most recent success was lobbying the UK Government for tax breaks for the games industry. What kind of impact do you think this will have on developers and publishers alike?

Well, if it gets through the consultation period unscathed and becomes law, then it should have a huge impact on the UK games industry.

A tax break is a massive help to put us on a level playing field with countries like Canada and France, plus it will encourage big studios to set up shop here. It'll also help small studios get started and survive through the tricky early years. It can only be great news.

On the flip side, TIGA's prominent role means it's also come in for criticism from some quarters of late. Do you think there's room to look at the way the organisation charges for membership, for instance?

I think one negative recent article got an undue amount of publicity as it was a 'story'.

TIGA is totally funded by membership fees, so it can't just give away research which it has self-funded. It is another benefit to being a member - quite rightly.

And if you look at how little it actually costs to become a member, any sensible studio using all the benefits will recoup that within months and actually save thousands of pounds over the year if they use TIGA as it should be used.

This includes saving on legal fees, discounts in all areas, advice on R&D tax breaks and the contacts, reports and advice you can get. It's a no-brainier if you actually look at it rationally, especially for small studios.

Personally speaking, what does the TIGA appointment mean to you?

I was immensely proud to be invited.

Neon Play is only two years old and it is my first experience of being in the games industry - I come from an advertising and marketing background - so I'm glad our 'success' has been recognised and I can now try and do my bit for TIGA and the UK games industry.

The mobile gaming space has got stupidly competitive in the last year, so we all need to help each other and I think it's a pretty collaborative industry - long may that last!
Thanks to Oli for his time.

You can find out more about Neon Play on the studio's website, while more details on TIGA can be found on the association's website.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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