March of the Micro-Studios

By August 22, 2016 Press Releases

TIGA, the network for game developers and digital publishers, today released new findings from its forthcoming annual report into the state of the UK video games industry Making Games in the UK Today: 2016 which shows that 65 per cent of the UK studio population are micro-studios employing four or fewer people – up from 60 per cent in 2014.  Just 16 per cent of the UK studio population employs 15 or more personnel – down from 22 per cent in 2014. However, it was medium and large sized studios that drove the headcount growth in the UK video games industry to almost 12,000 developers in year ending March 2016.

Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, said:

“Large studios are becoming as rare as hens’ teeth: only 2 per cent of studios employ more than 150 people. Yet it was the big and medium-sized studios which drove an increase in the UK’s developer headcount by an annualised rate of 7.5 per cent in the year ending March 2016.

“The prevalence of micro-studios reflects the popularity of mobile games development and a strong start-up culture in the UK’s games industry. There are now 688 games development businesses in the UK, up from 664 in 2014.

“Small studios play an important part in creating jobs and promoting innovation. Yet they are also vulnerable. Over 130 games companies closed down in the year to March 2016 (nearly 12 per cent of the entire studio population). 69 per cent of companies closing down had under 5 staff, which demonstrates that the smallest companies are the most vulnerable, especially when self-publishing.

“TIGA’s aim is to help more developers grow their businesses so that there are more studios with the ability, capacity and durability to handle large projects and to win investments from global publishers and investors.”

Both the UK’s studio population and games development workforce are growing. Studio numbers increased from 664 to 688 and employment grew from 10,869 to 11,893 in the year ending March 2016.  Video Games Tax Relief is playing an important part in achieving this growth. Video Games Tax Relief reduces the cost and risk of games development and encourages investment and employment. Over the three years prior to the announcement of Video Games Tax Relief, the UK’s development headcount experienced an average annual growth rate of minus 3.6 per cent. Over the four years after the announcement, the average annual growth rate was plus 7.1 per cent.  


Notes to editors 

Research methodology

 Games Investor Consulting (GIC) continuously maintains a database of all extant, closed and exiting British games companies. Between January-March 2016, 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. HR, admin, sales, marketing and commercial staff were excluded. 534 companies responded or publish up to date data on headcount, representing 70% of the UK’s total headcount. Estimates for the remaining companies were established by desk research from a variety of other public data and GIC sources. GIC takes the latest data on development headcount to scale total development expenditure, and then uses 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 24 business awards and commendations and has been successfully accredited as an Investors in People organisation three 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.



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