The findings come on the back of a new survey, European Interactive Games: The 2005 State of the Industry Report, from ELSPA and Screen Digest. It reveals that the British games industry generated an export value of £488m in 2003, compared to exports of £256m by UK film companies and exports of £677m by British TV outfits.
The wholesale value of games imports in 2003, though, was £291m, meaning the UK games industry recorded a positive balance close to £200m, up from £186m in 2000. The film market recorded a negative balance of nearly £160m in 2002, whilst TV imports were £553m more than exports.
The report also found that the UK video games industry currently employs more than 22,000 people, a rise of 7.5 per cent since 2000. However, between 2000 and 2004 the number of employees working for UK games development studios shrank by six per cent.
In addition, the research revealed a massive growth in new, non-retail distribution channels for games – the ‘network games market’. Covering the likes of mobile, iDTV, MMOG, casual games and games-on-demand, this area is growing at over seven times the pace of the traditional, retail-based market.
“While retail sales of games continue to reach new levels, new distribution channels are now expanding fast,” said Screen Digest’s chief analyst Ben Keen. “Mobile and online have become significant markets in their own right and we expect all forms of networked games exploitation to account for 20 per cent of the total Western world market by 2008.”