Headcount Growth in the Scottish Video Games Industry Grinds to a Halt

By May 23, 2019 June 7th, 2019 Press Releases

TIGA, the network for video games developers and digital publishers and the trade association representing the video games industry, today released new data showing that growth in the Scottish video games development industry ground to a halt in the year ending November 2018.  This compares to a growth rate of 8.1 per cent in the UK games industry in the same period.  Scotland is now the fourth largest games cluster in the UK (after London, the South East and the North West), down from third place in November 2017.

TIGA’s research shows that:

  • Scotland[1] has 1,537 permanent and full-time equivalent creative staff working on games development[2] in 84 companies. This is down marginally from 1,540 staff in 91 companies in 2017, following the closure of several Scottish studios.
  • Scotland is home to 7.9 per cent of the UK’s total games companies and 10.7 per cent of its developer headcount (the comparable figures for 2017 were 8.9 per cent and 11.6 per cent, respectively).
  • Scotland’s games development sector supports an additional 2,810 indirect jobs.
  • Annually, Scottish games development companies are estimated to invest £88 million in salaries and overheads, contribute £80 million in direct and indirect tax revenues to HM Treasury, and make a direct and indirect contribution of £194 million to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Dr Richard Wilson OBE, TIGA CEO, said:

“Growth in the Scottish video games industry ground to a halt in 2018, after growing dramatically in the previous year. The halt in headcount growth is due to the closure of a number of studios including Guerrilla Tea, Dynamo Games, Tiger Games, Hidden Armada, A Fox Wot I Drew and Serious Parody and the failure to compensate for this growth from surviving studios. Scotland’s average studio size has historically been larger than that for the UK as a whole which is also partly why the loss of so many studios in a single year has had such a disproportionate impact.

“However, Scotland remains the fourth largest games cluster in the UK. Scotland has a range of experienced studios working in games for mobile, online, educational and console markets and has first class universities educating excellent graduates for the games industry, including TIGA Accredited Abertay University.

“Scotland’s games industry also benefits from the support of agencies including Scottish Enterprise and Creative Scotland. The Scottish Government is also developing a Scottish National Investment Bank which may be able to support the sector in the future.

“If the Scottish games industry is to renew growth then we need to ensure that more Scottish games companies benefit from Video Games Tax Relief, a measure which effectively reduce the cost of games development. We should also 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.”

Professor Gregor White, Dean of Design and Informatics at Abertay University said:

“While it’s disappointing that the games industry in Scotland hasn’t sustained the high levels of growth experienced in recent years there is still much to be positive about. 2018 saw an increase in AAA development and the establishment of new technology spin offs including the opening of a new Epic Games studio and Leslie Benzies new studio – Build a Rocket Boy – in Edinburgh.

“The industry in Dundee continues to innovate and a new generation of start-ups is emerging. The recent investment by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the the cities games cluster to establish an R&D and innovation centre at the heart of the industry will support InGAME to work with games studios, multinational media companies and sector partners to catalyse growth in scale and value over the coming months and years.

“Once again, Abertay Univeristy is ranked as the leading games school in Europe and continues to attract the best young talent from around the world to study and work in Scotland. I’m confident that the industry in Scotland will benefit from these conditions and return to growth very soon.”


Notes to editors

Research methodology

Games Investor Consulting (GIC) continuously maintains a database of all extant, closed and exiting British games companies including all verified discrete independent and publisher-owned games development studios. It counts as a single studio all entities with holding/parent, sister and subsidiary companies that do not represent separate development concerns. It excludes companies in the process of being liquidated as well as any company that uses games-related Standard Industrial Codes (SIC) codes but which either are demonstrably not in games (e.g. are gambling or board gaming businesses) or cannot be verified from their published company profiles as operating in games development. Between September-November 2018, TIGA and GIC conducted an email and telephone survey of British games companies involved in the development of games including studios, publishers, service companies and broadcasters with games divisions. Distribution, manufacturing, peripheral device, marketing and retail companies were not profiled. Companies were asked how many staff worked full time in development or in roles supporting development. HR, admin, sales, marketing and commercial staff were excluded. GIC takes the latest data on development headcount to scale total development expenditure, and then uses current ONS economic data and Oxford Economics’ calculations from their report, “The economic contribution of the UK Games Development industry”, to establish estimates of the development industry’s GDP and tax impact.

About TIGA

TIGA is the network for games developers and digital publishers and the trade association representing the video games industry. Since 2010, TIGA has won 28 business awards and commendations and has been successfully accredited as an Investors in People organisation four times. TIGA focuses on three sets of activities:

  • Political representation
  • Media representation
  • Business services

This enhances the competitiveness of our members by providing benefits that make a material difference to their businesses, including a reduction in costs and improved commercial opportunities. It also means our members’ voices are heard in the corridors of power and positively represented in national, broadcast and UK video games trade media.


Get in touch:

Tel: 0845 468 2330
Email: info@tiga.org
Web: www.tiga.org
Twitter: www.twitter.com/tigamovement
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TIGAMovement
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/tiga

For further information, you can also contact:  Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO by email: richard.wilson@tiga.org

[1] The figures in this section are based on the same 2018 survey data as used for the wider UK market.

[2] Definition: This includes all production staff, QA, support, localisation and technical staff but excludes admin, finance, sales, marketing and commercial staff not directly involved with games production. Full-time equivalent staff comprise multiple part-time staff aggregated based on typical usage throughout a year to represent a single full-time employee.


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