New report says British video games workforce has halved – but it’s wrong

A damaging new report claims that the UK games industry employs just over 5,000 people – but it is massively inaccurate, MCV research has concluded.

The new Skillset creative sector census was published earlier this month and it says that the number of games business employees in Britain is down a shocking 43 per cent since 2004. There’s just one problem: the data comes from surveying just a handful British games firms, and doesn’t match with many other sources.

The education body insists it has the facts straight – but senior figures in games fear the report sends the wrong message about the UK games sector.

We are confident that the statistics give a reliable picture of the industries covered in the Census,” Creative Skillset said in a statement to MCV. Extensive secondary data sources were checked further through industry colleagues and both TIGA and UKIE who agreed they align with their picture of the industry.”

But TIGA has distanced itself from the report, debunking the data with its own research which says UK developers number close to 10,000, despite a three-year decline of seven per cent.

TIGA does not endorse Skillset’s estimate that there are just 5,500 people working in the industry,” said organisation chief Richard Wilson. TIGA’s census indicates that at the end of December 2012 there were over 9,220 people in the industry.”

UKIE’s take was more pragmatic, saying it can be difficult to get a definitive picture and a complete dataset”. CEO Jo Twist added: Skillset’s headline data tells a transition story that we’re familiar with, of an overall decline in the UK industry over the last five years.

The problem remains that there is no single industry-agreed methodology or source of data, which can lead to confusing and sometimes conflicting information. But research like this is only as good as the data that is provided.”

Which is the core of the problem with Skillset’s report, games developers told MCV.

The census confirms that just 34 firms from games filled out the survey – 27 of them studios, just four of them publishers, and three support outfits.

Upcoming data from MCV sister title Develop 100, published this week, will name the 450+ UK games studios operating today.

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