The UK games industry on course for growth in 2021, but just 48 per cent regard the UK as a favourable environment for business

Despite that the fact that the UK games industry is set to see further growth in 2021, just 48 per cent of survey respondents regard the UK as a favourable environment for business.

According to TIGA’s Business Opinion Survey, released today, 72 per cent of respondents plan to grow their organisation’s workforce during 2021, but only 48 per cent believe that the UK’s economic and business environment is favourable to the video games industry.

That 48 per cent figure is a drop from 65 per cent of respondents in the previous. year’s survey. 31 per cent consider that the environment is neither favourable nor unfavourable to the sector, while 17 per cent feel that it is unfavourable – an increase of 11 per cent from last year. 4 per cent, meanwhile, did not express a view.

This pessimism is not matched by current business performance, however. Of those surveyed, 72 per cent plan to grow their organisation’s workforce over the next year. 19 per cent plan to keep their workforce at current levels, and 9 per cent expect their workforce to diminish.

70 per cent of respondents reported that their company was performing either ‘very well’ or ‘well’, a jump from 61 per cent in last year’s survey. Additionally, 48 per cent of respondents were more optimistic about their company’s prospects compared to last year – compared to  25 per cent who reported no change in optimism, 22 per cent who were less optimistic and 6 per cent who did not know.

In terms of obstacles to success, however, 36 per cent cited discoverability as the biggest obstacle for their business, a figure which is unchanged from last year. Meanwhile, 25 per cent pointed to skills shortages and skills gaps, 19 per cent referred to limited access to finance, 15 per cent noted disruption caused by Covid-19, while 6 per cent identified ‘Other’ obstacles.

“The UK video games industry is set for growth, with 72 per cent of respondents to our Business Opinion Survey expecting to increase employment over the coming year” said TIGA CEO Dr Richard Wilson OBE. “However, just 48 per cent of games businesses in our survey believe that the UK’s economic and business environment is favourable to the sector. This is down from 65 per cent in 2019 and represents the lowest proportion of games businesses viewing the UK’s environment as favourable since 2015.

“The Government can strengthen the sector by taking three actions. Firstly, enhance Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) by raising the rate of relief from 25 to 32 per cent to ensure a favourable tax environment that promotes growth in the sector. Secondly, introduce a Video Games Investment Fund (VGIF) to improve studios’ access to finance. The VGIF would make grants or loans of between £75,000 to £500,000 available to games businesses on a matched funding basis. Thirdly, increase the supply of well-educated graduates who are able to work in the games industry and enable our employers to recruit highly skilled people from abroad.”

The research, which was carried out at the end of 2020, is is based upon a representative sample of 53 games businesses including small, medium and large firms, developing games across mobile/tablet, VR, PC and console.

About Chris Wallace

Chris is MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer, joining the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can regrettably be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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