New figures released today show the huge positive impact of the games industry on the UK economy, and reveal its true scale for the first time.
We now know that the games industry directly employs 20,430 FTEs (full-time equivalent roles) which have a direct contribution of £1.52bn into the UK economy. That’s those working in the core activities of creating and selling games – with the vast majority of that activity coming from the £1.25bn the report states is spent on game development.
However factoring in indirect and spillover economic impacts, from me writing this news article, to those who supply hardware to those companies, or even make them a sandwich come lunchtime, that rises to a staggering 47,620 FTEs and a grand total of £2.87bn.
The figures come from data related to 2016 – the most recent available – and so are undoubtedly higher still today, given the further growth of the gaming sector over the last two years.
All this from a new report Screen Business: How tax incentives help power economic growth across the UK that was commissioned by the BFI with significant input from Ukie.
Dr Jo Twist, Chief Executive Officer of Ukie, said: “The report shows once again that the UK games industry is an economic, cultural and technological powerhouse… establishing further clear evidence of the size, scale and creative output of games businesses in the UK. The report also makes clear the vital role that Video Games Tax Relief has played in the continued growth of the UK games sector… we look forward to its continued influence.”
The core of the report then is concerned with how tax relief has been a boon for the industry, with £389.9m of UK game development expenditure being supported by £45m of VGTR.
In turn that equates to 9,240 UK industry jobs, including 4,320 FTEs in games development itself. The report stated that without tax relief “68 per cent of VGTR-supported games would not have been made in the UK.” And the tax relief generated plenty of economic activity, with the £45m expenditure supporting £525m in total economic activity.
The report, which can’t be directly compared to a 2014 version due to methodology changes, did single out the growth of esports and digital retail. “UK esports provided job roles for 470 FTEs across a sector already generating £18.4m” and “the economic contribution of the digital retail sector was also shown for the first time, with 660 FTE positions contributing £49.1m” to the economy.
Simon Gardner, CEO of Climax Studios, commented: “Video games tax relief has helped build a compelling case for the development of games in the UK. The tax credits allow UK developers to be very competitive in a global market, but also help them mitigate some risk on games they develop themselves.
“From our perspective, this has led to a rise in head count, stronger order books going forward and a plan to further grow the studio. This then obviously feeds back in the taxes paid by our skilled employees, our company and the money they spend in the community. The government should continue to stimulate the video games sector, especially as it is so mobile and exports its work around the world digitally - which inherently has a low environmental impact.”
Frank Sagnier, CEO of Codemasters, added: “The UK has a rich history in video games and some of the best creative talent in the world. Video Games Tax Relief has undoubtedly helped us invest more in people and technology to increase our competitiveness in the global marketplace, and ultimately make better and more successful games.
“We have the skills and desire to be the best place in the world for making games and to make a significant contribution to the economy as a result but will need continued and further support if we are to achieve this, particularly in the current uncertain environment.”