TIGA, the network for game developers and digital publishers and the trade association representing the UK video games industry, has released findings of a Business Opinion Survey that indicates the video game industry is set to grow in 2019.
Of all respondents – which consisted of a representative sample of 60 game businesses of all sizes and working across all platforms, including mobile and VR – 77 per cent said they planned to expand their workforce during 2019, while just 2 per cent envisaged its workforce contracting during the next 12 months.
52 per cent of respondents said that the outlook for investment in their business – such as R&D and training and so on – was more optimistic than compared to 12 months ago, while 12 per cent said the outlook for investment was less so. 35 per cent thought the outlook was unchanged. In regards to the economic environment, 62 per cent of respondents believed the economic and business environment in the UK is favourable to the video games industry – down 8 per cent year-on-year – and while 28 per cent considered the environment submitted a neutral response, 5 per cent felt it was unfavourable.
77 per cent of respondents reported their company was performing either ‘very well’ or ‘well’ compared to 62 per cent twelve months ago, 18 per cent didn’t think it was performing particularly well nor badly, and just 5 per cent said their company was performing ‘badly’ or ‘very badly’. Interestingly, 57 per cent of the poll said that they were more optimistic about their company’s prospects compared to 12 months ago – up from 46 per cent – while 15 per cent said they were less optimistic about their organisation’s prospects. 4 per cent couldn’t decide either way.
As for the obstacles of those performance and prospect goals? 33 per cent of respondents said the principal obstacle holding back their businesses was limited access to finance. 30 per cent identified skills and skills gaps shortages, a further 25 per cent cited discoverability as the biggest obstacle, and 7 per cent referred to difficulties securing new projects or publishing deals. Others issues included a lack of space for expansion, a lack of support for games services companies, the challenge of Brexit, and the need to make the UK’s Video Games Tax Relief more internationally competitive.
"The Government can capitalise on our industry’s strong position by improving our access to finance and to highly skilled people," said Dr Richard Wilson OBE, TIGA CEO. "On finance, the Government should consider introducing TIGA’s proposal for a Games Investment Fund (GIF). The GIF would make grants or loans of between £75,000 and £500,000 available to games businesses on a matched funding basis.
"The Government’s emphasis on boosting STEM skills is sensible. However, our industry needs to have access to highly-skilled employees from the EU, EEA and beyond. Currently, EU workers make up 15 per cent of the UK games industry, while 5 per cent come from countries outside the EU," he added. "UK games businesses will continue to invest in training, while TIGA will continue to accredit university games courses to encourage a good supply of high-quality graduates. Yet if we are to achieve our potential, then the UK video games industry will need to continue to recruit global talent."
"2019 shows all the signs of being another great year for our industry," added Jason Kingsley OBE, TIGA Chairman and CEO and creative director at Rebellion. "We should see more start-ups, expansion and innovation within the sector. We can strengthen our industry still further by improving access to finance and skills and ensuring that the UK has a migration policy post-Brexit that is favourable to growth. TIGA looks forward to continuing its work with the Government in 2019 to ensure our industry achieves its potential."
(As percentages are rounded throughout this report and in some cases do not include neutral responses, these figures may not always add up to 100 per cent.)