The UK Video Games Development Sector Powers Forward

LONDON, February 1, 2018

TIGA, the trade association representing the UK video games industry, released new findings today which show the UK video games development sector grew to record levels in 2017, with studio headcounts, wider games industry employment, tax revenues and investment surpassing previous records. The UK’s games developer headcount grew to almost 13,300 in 2017, an annualised increase of 7%. The games development sector also now contributes nearly £1.5 billion to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product.

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 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 November 2017:

– the number of creative staff in studios soared by an annualised rate of 7 per cent to almost 13,300 full-time and full-time equivalent staff;
– the total games development workforce, including contractors, now exceeds 15,800;
– the number of jobs indirectly supported by studios rose from 21,744 to 24,259;
– combined direct and indirect tax revenues generated by the sector for the Treasury are estimated to have increased from £514 million in March 2016 to £613 million in November 2017;
– annual investment by studios rose from £562 million in March 2016 to £671 million in November 2017; and
– the game development sector’s annual contribution to UK Gross Domestic Product increased from £1.25 billion in March 2016 to nearly £1.5 billion in November 2017.

Dr Richard Wilson, OBE, TIGA CEO, commented:

“The UK video games development sector powered forward in 2017, growing more than four times the rate of the UK economy. Employment and investment in the sector surged to record levels in 2017 and the industry’s contribution to GDP reached an all-time high of £1.5 billion.

“Our industry is growing for three reasons. Firstly, the UK is one of the finest games development centres globally, with outstanding small, medium and large studios creating products that sell across the world.

“Secondly, the prevalence of mobile and tablet devices, the launch of upgraded consoles,
the popularity of PC games and
the advent of Virtual and Augmented Reality are encouraging investment in games.

“Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) is powering growth. TIGA played a critical role in the long battle to win VGTR, which effectively reduces the cost and risk of games development and is incentivising investment and job creation in the games industry. There is now a clear causal link between the advent of VGTR and headcount growth in the UK games development sector. The UK games industry declined by an annual average
of 3.1 per cent between 2008 and 2011, before VGTR. Since the announcement that VGTR would be made been available, the average annual growth rate has been 7 per cent.

“The sector still faces serious challenges in access to finance, cultural recognition and cutting-edge skills to exploit this rapidly growing market in which the UK is a global success story. We should now reinforce our successful industry by introducing a Games Investment Fund, improving skills and training, enabling UK games companies to recruit highly skilled workers from the EU and beyond, and establishing a British Games Institute. This will ensure that our sector continues to create more jobs, more investment and more video games.”

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

“The UK video games development industry grew to record levels in 2017 confirming our position as a creative, technological and economic success story. This is great news for consumers, students and developers.

“Yet, our industry continues to face challenges. Access to finance is challenging, particularly for smaller studios. Recruitment of highly skilled people can be difficult. We now need to reinforce our success by retaining and enhancing Video Games Tax Relief, improving studios’ access to finance, developing regional games clusters, continuing to boost education and skills and enabling studios to access highly skilled people from overseas, including from the EU, following Brexit.”