Update on future Trade Missions to International Events

edited in Association News

Ok so after meeting with the DTI, we CAN charge an admin fee. So Trade Missions are back on. The call for Gamescom will be going out tomorrow or early next week.


Hi Guys,

As you know, one of the big things that IESA does is organise funding for South African companies to attend international events like Gamescom and GDC. This year, we finally managed to secure the funding to attend GDC. Unfortunately, the event wasn’t without its problems, and while most of them were resolved, there was one incident that has had some large ramification for how we can go about doing funding missions in the future.

I received an email from the DTI shortly before we were meant to leave for GDC informing me that all funding for the trade mission had been suspended due a complaint being lodged that IESA was charging an administration fee. Apparently, this is something we cannot do, though specific motivation for why has not been provided (and there is nothing in their terms or guidance doc that says we cannot, in fact their guidelines have a whole section on charging an admin fee).

Luckily I managed to persuade the DTI to release the funding, so the mission went ahead, however one of the stipulations was that we weren’t allowed charge the fee for the mission, and so we issued refunds of the admin fee to the participants. What does this mean?

As most of you are aware the DTI's funding program does not cover IESA's expenses for these missions, so despite the fact that we spend an incredible amount of time and effort organizing this, and we are required to join you on the mission (it is a requirement of the funding program that the mission organizer attends) we need to cover all of our own expenses. Unfortunately this is an untenable situation for IESA, we simply do not have the internal funding to carry such costs. As an example the cost of this GDC mission to IESA has been approximately R150,000.00 (this includes my airfare, accommodation, additional charges levied on us by GDC organisers for last minute expenses as well as making up for US$10,000.00 shortfall that the DTI did not pay). For some perspective our entire annual budget for last year was only R220,000.00.

Thankfully a lot of the participants offered for us to keep their admin fee to put towards these expenses and we only found ourselves short R50,000.00 that we will need to cover from our membership fees.

So what does this mean for future missions?

Unless I can workout away to cover the inevitable excess costs that IESA incurs on these missions I will no longer being applying to run trade missions, we simply do not have the means to organise and run this and cover our own expenses at the same time. The GDC mission will be the last one until we can come up with another way to secure funding.

Another result of the complaint was that a DTI officer was sent to “monitor” us at the show, and all the participants had to sign an attendance register, and while the person sent was nice enough, it was an inconvenience for those attending, and quite frankly a little bit belittling in my opinion.

This is a pity as prior to the complaint we had been given the go ahead to apply for as many missions as we wanted (up from the 1 per year we previously were restricted to).

I’m meeting again with the DTI soon to try get some clarity on what exactly we can and cannot do, and how we are expected to cover our own costs, I’ll update everyone as and when I get more information.

If anyone has any ideas on how we can cover our costs, I’m all ears.

Thanked by 2Bensonance CiNiMoD


  • Way to piss in the pool Anonymous Complaining Person :/
  • edited
    This is really bad news for the community. Though I don't know how many people were a part of the GDC mission, and how much the administration fee per person needed to be to cover those very substantial costs (and whether that was affordable for everyone who was a part of this).

    I think trade missions to GDC are extremely valuable for new developers who don't have a lot of experience. Though I think someone like myself doesn't get nearly as much benefit as someone who is just starting their career.

    So I think that if the trade mission is comprised of people who could derive significant benefit from the mission that the community could pull together to cover a lot of those costs. I don't think the burden of the extra costs should fall solely on the participants of the trade mission, especially not on those who cannot afford to share in those costs, though I do think it's reasonable to ask the participants who can afford it to lift some of the burden off of IESA.

    What I'd like to see, before next year's mission, are testimonials of some of the 2018 participants who believe that the trade mission to GDC in 2018 benefited them. And what I'd also like to see is who is going to be going to GDC 2019 and to get a sense of how the mission will help them.

    And if that makes it seem worthwhile, I'd happily personally contribute towards helping those people attend GDC. And I suspect I wouldn't be alone.

    Though if the mission to GDC this year was fun, but not especially useful, and if next year the attendees are largely people who were going to go to GDC anyway and were looking for a cheap ticket, then I'm not interested in contributing (for full disclosure, no-one from Free Lives was part of the mission this year, and I think their are far more worthy candidates than our team for this sort of thing).

    Essentially I'm saying I think crowdfunding is an option, especially in the case where there are a handful of participants who cannot afford the administrative donation. I think this is a generous community when we see a way to help, but personally I want to see that the trip will make a big difference for the people who attend GDC 2019 (e.g. people trying to break into the industry who couldn't normally afford to go, and recently graduated game students just starting their game dev careers).
  • That's great.

    If there are members of the trip who stand to really benefit from the trip who will struggle to pay the admin fee I still think that some crowdfunding can help out and I'm happy to pitch in.

    Again though, I'm not keen on sponsoring anyone's holiday. And am especially not keen on sponsoring the holiday of the kind of person who puts other peoples' opportunities in jeopardy because they choose to complain about admin fees.
  • Is there some sort of report on how the trade mission to GDC went? I searched for this years and last years but couldnt find anything.
    Who went and what games did they show? Did any members get exposure/publishing deals?

    I was under the impression that GDC is focused on education and development talks. Perhaps each of the people that went could write on their experiences and what they learned?

    What I'd like to see, before next year's mission, are testimonials of some of the 2018 participants who believe that the trade mission to GDC in 2018 benefited them. And what I'd also like to see is who is going to be going to GDC 2019 and to get a sense of how the mission will help them.


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