There’re some exciting new things happening with our funding friends over at VAF. Following their new managerial agreement with the government, the rules and regulations of the public funding for local video games have changed significantly. At least, significantly enough for us to capture the most important changes for studios that want to get cracking on a new application under the new system. Read on to know the details or scroll down to the recap below.
Extra Funding Measures
As you may already know, VAF|Game Fund offers funding support to video games at different phases of a video game’s development. There’s no less than four new ways your studio can apply for funding.
- Prototype support (to create a proof of concept during ideation)
- Vertical slice support (to create a small, but polished part of the complete experience, for instance one level)
- Post release support (for porting, localization, extra content…)
- Support for an educational version (to adapt an existing video game to be used in Flemish education)
These brand new funding measures join production and promotion support. Outside of significantly increased maximum amounts (see below), there’s relatively little change to these existing measures.
Yet, there are some interesting novelties when it comes to promotion support. First, it now becomes possible for projects that haven’t received prior support to apply for promotion support. In that case, the same committee will form an opinion about the video game (which needs to be as closed to finished as possible) as well as the proposed marketing approach.
Next, studios will also be able to use part of their vertical slice / production support for promotion. The amount you can use for this is cumulatively limited to max. €15.000. This gives you the chance to develop a community at an early stage and generate traction for your game.
Keen observers will have noticed that preproduction support in its current form disappears and will be split into prototype and vertical slice support.
VAF support is state aid, which is capped at a certain level. That’s what we call state aid intensity: the percentage of your total budget that is allowed to be financed by the government.
Increased State Aid Intensity
Before, the state intensity ceiling was only determined by the kind of video game you made: entertainment video games were always limited to 50%, artistic video games to 85%, serious and educational video games to 75%. The new regulation also considers the profile of the applicant. Especially vulnerable starters and more established studios that dare to innovate and continue to take risks will reap the benefits.
It works like this:
- By default, support for prototype, vertical slice and production is max. 50% of the total budget. In the case of difficult works (read further below) this can be increased to max. 80% for prototype and vertical slice support and max. 70% for production support.
- For promotion support and post release support state aid intensity amounts to max. 50%.
- Educational games, which are funded by the Ministry of Education, can be funded for up to max. 75% of the total budget of prototype, vertical slice and production support.
Making video games is hard and turning a profit is even harder. Difficult works isn’t about the complexity of development, but rather gauges the financial risk of the project. Following that description, VAF|Game Fund distinguishes between the following categories of difficult works:
- The first and second project of a new applicant. The increased state aid intensity allows them to focus more on their own IP instead of splitting their resources over several projects, which provides an extra safety net / push for studios who still need to figure it all out;
- Projects that extend the portfolio of an existing studio in new and exciting ways (e.g., switch from B2B to B2C projects);
- Projects that are extremely innovative in order to stimulate implementation of new, groundbreaking ideas or technology;
- Projects with a market risk that’s remarkably above average (e.g., non-profit projects or projects that have primarily cultural value);
- Socially relevant projects that can have a big impact on people’s lives and society (serious games);
- Educational projects that aren’t geared towards Flemish education.
Higher Maximum Amount
Next to state aid intensity, VAF support is also limited by maximum amounts and the good news is those have increased as well.
Where the amount for a project that received funding for every stage (so preproduction – production – promotion) used to be maxed out at €300.000, this can now be as high as €500.000 per project. The maximum amounts are determined as follows:
- Prototype support: max. €25.000
- Development support (vertical slice, production and post release support): max. €400.000 (potential prototype support included)
- Promotion support: max. €75.000 (used to be €50.000)
- Support for an educational version: max. €25.000
As you can see developers are free to distribute the maximum amount of €400.000 over the various development phases as they see fit. This increased flexibility (before, preproduction support used to be capped at €75.000) should allow the financing to match the needs of a specific project as closely as possible.
While these changes are already in effect since October 5th, the first funding call to use them will be the one in January 2023 (exact date TBC). Should you have any questions while working on an application or you want the lowdown straight from the horse’s mouth, you can contact VAF|Game Fund directly for more tailored information.
We feel these changes can contribute positively to the growth acceleration of our local video game sector and we’re anxious to see what they might amount to in the coming years.
All you need to know about the new VAF regulations
- Overview of funding measures
- Development support
- Prototype support: max. €25.000
- Vertical slice support:
- Production support
- Post release support
- max. €400.000 (prototype incl.)
- Promotion support: max. €75.000
- Support for educational version: max. €25.000
- Development support
- Higher state aid intensity:
- Standard 50%
- in case of “difficult works”
- up to 80% for prototype and vertical slice support
- up to 70% for production support
- Educational games remain at 75%