Games Impact: The economic contribution of the UK games development industry
There are around 10,000 games developers working in the UK…
• UK based game developers are highly skilled; 69% are educated to at least degree level compared with 20% of the UK working age population in 2008, making games development part of the UK’s growing “knowledge economy”.
• The high skills of games developers are reflected in above average earnings for those employed in the industry, at £30,316 p.a., more than a fifth above the UK average.
…directly contributing around £400 million to UK GDP in 2008…
• On a turnover of £625 million, the UK Games Development industry directly contributed £386 million to UK GDP in 2008. By comparison, this amounts to, for example, over a quarter of the direct contribution of the UK Film Industry to GDP.
…and £130 million to the Exchequer
• The UK Games Development industry is estimated to have directly contributed about £130 million to the Exchequer in 2008 in corporation tax, income tax, national insurance contributions and VAT (and other indirect taxes). This is equivalent to 20% of the turnover in the UK Games Development industry.
In total the UK Games Development industry supports 28,000 jobs and contributes over a billion pounds a year to GDP…
• The UK Games Development industry helps to support a total of 28,100 jobs in 2008, allowing for those directly employed and for the multiplier (knock-on) effects.
• In total, the UK Games Development industry contributes £1,016 million a year to UK GDP, taking into account direct, indirect and induced impacts.
…and £420 million to the Exchequer
• The UK Games Development industry and its employees overall contribution to UK tax revenues, including direct and multiplier impacts is an estimated £419 million in 2008.
But the overall economic impact is even greater…
• The UK Games Development industry contributes to the economy and Exchequer in a number of other ways not captured by the direct and multiplier analysis discussed above by stimulating the performance of other industries.
…with “spillover” effects deriving from R&D expenditure…
• The Games Development industry is an R&D intensive industry – estimated to invest 14% of its turnover on R&D. Academic research suggests that R&D spillover effects are very large, with R&D investment generating a social return of around 70% – i.e. every £100 million invested in R&D leads to an increase in GDP of £70 million in the long run.
• Cluster effects are efficiency gains arising from companies being located close to each other. There is clear evidence that clustering effects are present in the Games Development industry, with most companies located around 8 main hubs. This implies that if the industry would decline, and some companies would leave the cluster, there would be negative productivity effects on the remaining companies.
…and cultural spillovers
• Video games have a broad demographic reach – there are at least 26.5 million people in the UK playing games (48% of them are female) – and its penetration rate is increasing fast for the older age groups. Given its wide audience reach and the length of exposition (hours / week) in the younger age groups, there is a clear cultural dimension to games as a medium of entertainment that cannot be ignored.
• Video games also reflect the cultural values from the country where they have been made, reinforcing the country branding, and defining its cultural image, its technological reputation, or promoting tourism.
Future growth of the UK Games Development industry is far from certain…
• Despite rapid growth of the global games retail market (10% a year for 2004-2011), and the substantial expansion of Games Development in other territories (especially China, Korea, and Canada), long term decline in the UK based industry is a real possibility – this year has seen the loss of development jobs from global publisher studios. If the trend of global publishers downsizing in the UK continues – exacerbated by the relocation of the most threatened low level jobs (QA and testing) by global publishers to other territories-, then these losses will no longer be absorbed by existing studios and the industry will suffer.
…and 10,000 jobs could be lost in the UK
• If the lower growth path materialised, the total value added contribution to GDP of the Games Development industry would be £350 million lower in 2013 and it would support 10,000 fewer jobs.
• Many of these losses are likely to be permanent, as the highly skilled and specialised games developers are actively recruited by foreign companies as UK based opportunities disappear.
This report, prepared by Oxford Economics1, provides an evaluation of the economic contribution of the UK Games Development industry.
The video games industry value chain is organized around the production and distribution of digital content. Games Developers are the primary creative force in the video games industry, responsible for transforming original and / or licensed IP into games on a variety of platforms (such as TV-based or handheld consoles, PCs and mobile phones).
The sector has seen a consolidation process in recent years, with many value chain functions vertically integrated within large publishing houses. The number of UK independent developers in 2008 is 166, down from 295 in 2000 – although the number of people employed during this period has actually increased.
The UK has traditionally been the third largest development territory in the world in terms of revenue generation, but has recently slipped to 5th place – behind Canada and Korea, including network games – due to, among other factors, increasing competition from subsidised territories. The amount of new IP made in the UK and reaching the market is decreasing, despite the size of both the global and UK retail market increasing at double digit figures, and the boom of online and mobile games, that have largely bypassed the UK.
The channels of economic impact
[img :376]There are many channels through which the UK Games Development industry makes a contribution to the UK economy. This contribution includes the following standard economic impacts:
• Direct impacts – employment and activity in the UK Games Development industry itself.
• Indirect impacts – employment and activity supported down the supply chain to the UK Games Development industry, as a result of Games Development companies purchasing goods and services from UK suppliers. This includes, for example, jobs supported through the demand for property/rent, recruitment, and a variety of activities in the business services sector (legal, accountancy etc).
• Induced impacts – employment and activity supported by the spending of those directly or indirectly employed in the UK Games Development industry on goods and services in the wider UK economy. This helps to support jobs in the industries that supply these purchases, and includes jobs in retail outlets, companies producing consumer goods and in a range of service industries.
There are also a number of additional economic catalytic impacts (‘spillovers’) which result from the wider role of the Games Development industry, for example:
• Spillovers from R&D in Games Development to other industries
• Clustering of Games Development companies leading to increased productivity, efficiency and benefits from R&D
• Intellectual Property provided for other creative industries (e.g. cinema)
• Education – universities and promotion of science
• Other cultural effects such as tourism, country branding and technological reputation
The economic value of the direct, indirect and induced effects is related to the total revenues of the UK Games Development industry, while the catalytic impacts are ‘spillover’ benefits for other industries, consumers and the general economy (see diagram above).