The UK Video Games Development Sector Soars to New Heights

LONDON, August 16, 2016

TIGA, the network for game developers and digital publishers, released new findings today which show the UK video games development sector grew to record levels in 2016, with studio headcounts, wider games industry employment, tax revenues and investment surpassing previous records. The UK’s games developer headcount reached 11,893 in 2016, an annualised increase of 7.5 per cent. The games development sector also now contributes more than £1.25 billion to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The findings come from TIGA’s definitive forthcoming annual report into the state and health of the UK video games industry Making Games in the UK Today: August 2016 which is based on an extensive survey of UK games businesses, with analysis by Games Investor Consulting.

TIGA’s research shows that in the year to March 2016:

– the number of creative staff in studios soared by 7.5 per cent to 11,893 full-time and full-time equivalent staff;
– the number of jobs indirectly supported by studios rose from 19,872 to 21,744;
– combined direct and indirect tax revenues generated by the sector for the Treasury increased from £460 million to £514 million;
– annual investment by studios rose from £503 million to £562 million; and
– the game development sector’s contribution to UK Gross Domestic Product increased from £1,115m (over £1.1billion) to nearly £1.25 billion towards GDP in the year to March 2016.

Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, commented:

“The UK video games development sector is strengthening, succeeding and soaring to new heights. Employment and investment in the sector surged to record levels in 2016 and the industry’s contribution to GDP reached an all-time high of £1.25 billion.

“The industry’s growth over the last year has been driven by three factors. Firstly, the games market is buoyant, with new opportunities continuing to arise in mobile, PC gaming, console and VR and AR, which have combined to stimulate investment and job creation.

“Secondly, start-ups have increased in number while existing medium and larger studios have expanded, suggesting that we are getting closer to the efficient industry eco-system that TIGA has long fought for.

“Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Games Tax Relief (GTR) is powering growth. TIGA played a critical role in winning GTR, which effectively reduces the cost and risk of games development and is incentivisising investment and job creation in the games industry. There is now a clear causal link between the advent of GTR and headcount growth in the UK games development sector. Over the three years before GTR was announced, the UK’s development headcount experienced an average annual growth rate of minus 3.6 per cent. Over the four years after the announcement, the average annual growth rate was plus 7.1 per cent. We should now examine how we can make GTR even more effective so that it will continue to create more jobs, more investment and more video games in the years ahead.”

Jason Kingsley OBE, TIGA Chairman and CEO and Creative Director at Rebellion, said:

“The UK video games development industry grew to record levels in 2016 confirming its reputation as a creative, technological and economic success story. This is great news for consumers, students and developers.

“However, our industry continues to confront challenges. 12 per cent of all studios closed down in 2014. Access to finance is challenging, particularly for micro-studios. Recruitment of highly skilled people can be difficult. We now need to reinforce our success by enhancing Video Games Tax Relief, improving studios’ access to finance, developing regional games clusters and continuing to boost education and skills.”