Dynam Japan Holdings Co. Ltd has extended its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Singapore-based online games provider I Got Games (IGG) last week after a US$15 million dollar investment last October. AsiaBiz Services, Singapore’s leading company formation consultancy, identified the six month extension of the MOU as part of the rising trend of incorporations and collaborations by foreign gaming companies in Singapore, due to the Government’s support for them and its active promotion of the industry.

Two weeks ago, Singapore hosted the third Casual Connect Asia 2014, a games conference that attracted more than 900 industry players at Shangri-La Hotel, including Sergio Salvador, the Head of Games Partnership at Google. Earlier in February, the DL Forum 2014 took place at Shangri-La Hotel, which brought together the movers and shakers of the local gaming industry. The event was attended by gaming studios, publishers, games platform owners, and the Government to explore the latest ideas, trends and obstacles in developing and expanding gaming businesses.

ACTIVE PROMOTION OF THE GAMING INDUSTRY

Government agencies in Singapore like Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and Media Development Authority (MDA) exert considerable effort to bolster Singapore’s gaming ecosystem. The iN2015 Masterplan laid out by the IDA consists of the Connected Games Programme, which positions the city-state as a vibrant core for games publishing and distribution in the region. This is accomplished by helping gaming companies to grow and build their capabilities. For that, the IDA strives to create a synergistic business environment where gaming companies have easy access to products, services and programmes.

This is aligned with the IDA’s collaboration with the Casual Games Association, a global trade organisation for the creation of games for mass market consumers. Together, they have launched the Casual Connect conferences in Asia, which accounts for the lion’s share of the global gaming industry with 48.4% of market share (Business Review, January 2014). The Republic has also managed to draw more than 6,500 professionals from the games industry annually by paving the way for these high-profile international games conferences and exhibitions in Singapore. This has solidified the nation’s stature as a regional hub for gaming.

SINGAPORE BOOSTS SUPPORT FOR GAMING COMPANIES

The Government has not only been proactive in creating opportunities for partnerships between gaming companies, but also matches them with investors, venture capitalists and angels. IDA links up locally incorporated gaming companies with in-market incubators and mentors with extensive experience in the gaming business. It also allows them to participate in in-market accelerator programmes. By doing so, IDA helps gaming companies to understand their market better and obtain guidance on the technical infrastructure required for their gaming businesses.

In addition, MDA also provides grants to gaming companies to develop ideas into game design under the Development Assistance and Production Assistance initiatives. When these gaming companies acquire the intellectual property (IP) rights for their game designs, they can also qualify for the Productivity & Innovation Credit (PIC) that is issued by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). The PIC allows gaming businesses to enjoy 400% tax deduction, 60% cash payout and a dollar-for-dollar matching cash bonus.

As a result, Singapore has attracted over 60 gaming companies that are involved in the conception, publishing and servicing of games to its shores. According to the Economic Development Board (EDB), the incorporation of top-tier foreign gaming companies in Singapore include Germany’s Real U, Taiwan’s Softworld, Italy’s Rainbow S.p.A, and Japan’s Tecmo Koei. This has allowed the games industry in Singapore to contribute a value add of S$504 million to the economy and rake in a revenue of S$587 million in 2012, according to the Deloitte Interactive Digital Media Survey 2013.

“As one of the fastest growing media sectors of the nation, the gaming industry of Singapore appears highly attractive to companies that are seeking to create, publish and distribute games content. The island nation is today Southeast Asia’s gaming nerve centre because on top of the Government’s support, it also has a world class talent base, excellent IT infrastructure, and a protective regime of IP rights”, said Mr. James Nuben, Head of Taxation at AsiaBiz Services.

WORLD CLASS TALENT POOL

Singapore has managed to create a world class talent pool for the gaming industry by nurturing and upgrading the homegrown talent base, and welcoming international talent. Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower recognises the gaming industry as a key economic sector in Singapore and has identified game designers, programmers and producers among the occupations with strategic skills in demand.

In addition, it has set up specialty schools for gaming such as the Digipen Institute of Technology, and the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, which is a partnership between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Republic. While Digipen offers degree programmes in Real-Time Interactive Simulation and Game Design, the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab serves to explore new strategies for the conceptualisation of games as a medium.

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