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Europe in full throttle for e-services economy

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Europe's revolution in the e-services economy is advancing strongly, with the video games industry playing a crucial role in its success, says a new report published by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) on 18 November.

This study is funded in part by the COMPLETE ('Competitiveness by leveraging emerging technologies economically') project, which was backed by the JRC's Institute for Prospective and Technological Studies (IPTS) and the EU's Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry to investigate the future competitiveness of the EU's 'Information and communication technologies' (ICT) sector in emerging ICT technologies.

The 'Born Digital/Grown Digital - Assessing the future competitiveness of the EU video games software industry' report notes how online games are helping drive the digital content convergence process based on the digital distribution of various content and the diffusion of interactive capabilities for users. Impacted by this trend are the video, music, film and mobile communication industries, as well as the publishing sector.

The video games industry in particular targets and tests fresh and innovative online/offline and mobile digital services by offering services that are both intuitive and user friendly. Comprised in the services package are ICT items such as sensors, context aware devices, movement recognition cameras and cognitive technologies.

Another important feature of the video games industry is that because it is miles ahead of other media and entertainment markets, its impact on other e-services could be huge, particularly for eHealth, eEducation, eCulture and eGovernment, according to the experts.

Over a three-year period, COMPLETE focused its work on a number of emerging technologies, namely online and mobile video games software, Web 2.0, displays (OLEDs, organic light emitting diodes), Radio-frequency identification (RFID), emerging robotics and embedded software in the automotive industry.

In 2009, the global video games market had an estimated value of some EUR 47 billion in 2009, and experts predict four-fold growth for the sector over media and entertainment as a whole. Projections for the year 2013 say the video games market will swell by almost 70% but media and entertainment will sustain only a 17% jump.

The study evaluated diverse segments, namely online and mobile video games. Particular attention was paid to the segments' software industry, growth potential, value chain, business models and current evolution. The report provides a summary of the major emerging technologies, evaluates their competitive strength in the ICT industry and assesses their disruptive potential on the market.

The report also highlights the contributions made by European businesses to the games software value chain. Moreover, the competitiveness of EU video games software industry is a major contributor to the global market. In particular, Europe's industry provides a major share of games engines on the world market, and Europe in general is instrumental in launching developer studios in various markets including Germany, France, Sweden and the UK.

It should be noted that work needs to be carried out in the publishing and device segments, which face a number of weaknesses. 'Specific enabling policies could play a key role here,' the authors write in their report. 'For instance, the deployment of the next generation of broadband (wireline and wireless) or adequate business conditions for creative developers (funding, venture capital...) could contribute to support. By the same token, the issue of a "creative workforce" is still around: are the required skills available to companies or do we still need a pro-science, pro-technology and pro-entrepreneurs EU education policy?'

Europe is home to the largest video games market. In 2009 alone, Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the UK represented almost a third of the global market. The EU predicts the market will expand thanks to increased broadband penetration and greater online game play options. A stronger market will result in stronger activity for European businesses.

'Born digital/Grown digital - Assessing the future competitiveness of the EU video games software industry' report

COMPLETE project

Source: Community R&D Information Service (CORDIS)

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