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TIGA: UK games development sector ‘growing more than five times the rate of the UK economy’

TIGA, the trade association representing the UK video games industry, has released a new report that shows the UK video games development sector has grown by 8.1 per cent since 2017.

The report states the UK sector has now reached a full-time – or full-time equivalent – developer headcount of 14,353, and hit a record high 16,532 employees in the sector, inclusive of contractors.

TIGA’s forthcoming annual report into the state and health of the UK dev sector, Making Games in the UK Today (TIGA, 2019), includes a survey of UK games businesses and shows the sector now contributes £1.8bn to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), up from £1.6bn year-on-year. It also saw the combined direct and indirect tax revenues generated for the Treasury increase, too, jumping from £613m to £747m.

Stating that “much of the growth in employment is being driven by larger companies”, the survey reports that the number of jobs “indirectly supported by studios” also grew from 24,274 to 26,241 YoY. The annual investment by studios has also risen from £737 million to £818 million.

“The UK video games development sector surged forward in 2018, growing more than five times the rate of the UK economy. Employment and investment in the sector reached record levels in 2018 and the industry’s contribution to GDP reached an all-time high of £1.8 billion,” said Dr Richard Wilson, OBE, TIGA CEO.

“Our industry is growing for three reasons. Firstly, the UK is one of the finest games development centres globally, with outstanding small, medium and large studios creating content that sell all over the world. Secondly, the prevalence of mobile and tablet devices, the launch of upgraded consoles,
the popularity of PC games and
the advent of Virtual and Augmented Reality are encouraging investment in games.

“Thirdly, and most significantly, Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) is enabling our sector to grow strongly. TIGA played a critical role in the long battle to win VGTR, which effectively reduces the cost and risk of games development and is incentivising investment and job creation in the games industry. There is a clear connection between the advent of VGTR and headcount growth in the UK games development sector. The UK games industry declined by an annual average
of 3.1 per cent between 2008 and 2011, before VGTR existed. Since VGTR has been available, the average annual growth rate has been 7.5 per cent.

“The sector still faces serious challenges, particularly with respect in access to finance and in access to highly skilled people, to exploit this rapidly growing market in which the UK is a golobal success story,” Wilson added. “We should now reinforce our successful industry by introducing a Video Games Investment Fund (VGIF) to improve access to finance. We should also continue to strengthen industry-university links, enhance skils and training and enable UK games companies to recruit highly skilled workers from the EU and beyond. This will ensure that our sector continues to create more jobs, more investment and more video games.”

“The UK video games development industry grew to record levels in 2018 demonstrating our position as a creative, economic and technological success story. This is great news for consumers, students and developers,” added Jason Kingsley OBE, TIGA Chairman and CEO and creative director at Rebellion.

“Yet, our industry continues to face challenges. Access to finance is challenging, particularly for smaller studios. Recruitment of highly skilled people can be difficult.  We now need to reinforce our success by retaining and enhancing Video Games Tax Relief, establishing a Video Games Investment Fund to improve studios’ access to finance, continuing to strengthen education and skills and enabling studios to access highly skilled people from overseas following Brexit.”

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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