‘Digital data is key to the future success of the UK games business’

UKIE CEO Dr Jo Twist reveals more details about how the trade body’s new digital data deals became a reality, and why this really matters

Data is the lifeblood of any digital industry.

We are surrounded day to day by proclamations from all sectors that ‘data is the new oil’, and terms such as ‘Big Data’ are thrown around regularly and we all nod sagely, signalling that we agree – even if we don’t know what it all actually means. But where does the games industry stand in relation to data and our access to it? Considering we rely on analytics to make our games better every day, if we are not the most data-rich sector, why not?

UKIE has been providing its members with access to very accurate data for boxed software, via our partnership with GfK, for many years. We set up the pipeline of point-of-sales, real sales data, with GfK and created Chart-Track. This has been a great asset over the years in helping us all understand the market, but the development of better broadband has enabled digital retail platforms such as Steam, Origin, Playstation Store and Xbox Live to grow their market share.

In parallel, the evolution of mobile devices and the app store economy has opened new opportunities for games companies to reach the whole world: we can now play on-the-go, and reach new customers with more titles and different kinds of gameplay experiences.


This shift to digital was clearly illustrated in 2014, when our industry valuation showed that digital PC and console sales had overtaken physical sales for the first time in the UK’s history. This was not counting mobile sales, which is one of the fastest growing segments worldwide – especially because of China.

Off the back of this, we decided to investigate potential additional sources of information for these key segments. Consulting with our member sub-group for Insight and Market Data, we established that two companies, SuperData and Reflection, could provide new information at rebated and accessible prices for UKIE members.

We understand that getting the complete picture of digital sales is a difficult task, and we cannot claim that the new sources are as accurate – yet – as our GfK data, which is based on items actually scanned at a physical till. I say ‘yet’, because our members and interested games companies can contribute to make the data better by sharing their figures with our partners: it not only helps with the overall estimates and accuracy but also means additional rebates for the companies who do so.

These new data offerings are totally optional: there are other companies and sources that also track and report digital and mobile sales data. We have made these agreements, however, to enable access to new insights on the fastest-growing segments of our market. They will certainly help us as a trade body with overall estimates that we can share with government and overseas investors looking in, and help us to gain valuable insight into the industry that we are proud to represent.

"Having better estimates of the whole market
helps us to be recognised as one of the key
creative industries of the UK."

Dr Jo Twist, UKIE

Access to data is vital for us as a representative of games companies, to approach political decision makers. When we commissioned the Blueprint for Growth report, by Olsberg SPI, access to industry data was key in making our recommendations for how MPs can act to grow our industry.

Having better estimates of the whole market, including its digital component, and seeing how interventions move the dial or not, helps us to be recognised as one of the key creative industries of the UK.

Playing games is now mainstream, and encompasses a wide range of different interests and demographics, but is not yet fully recognised as a key entertainment sector that could benefit from the same support other sectors receive, or the attention from investors that it deserves – much of this is grown from lack of knowledge.

Creative sectors will and are playing an important role in the digital economy of the present and future. Together we can ensure that the UK games sector continues to shine as one of the best worldwide: access to data is our key to telling that story.

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