Shift In Shape of British Video Games Industry

By November 22, 2010 Press Releases

TIGA, the trade association representing the UK computer games industry, today released findings from a detailed census of British games companies. The census of all 278 UK studios revealed a shift in the shape and nature of the UK games industry. There has been significant volatility in the number of development companies (with 131 businesses closing and 145 start-ups). There has also been a dramatic shift towards network gaming with 80% of new companies focusing on developing digital distribution games rather than retail product. The survey also revealed that the overall number of people employed in the sector has fallen by 9% in the last two years, with the vast majority of companies closing being games developers.

Dr. Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO commented on the research:

“Over the last two years 145 new companies entered the market, 80% of which focus on digital distribution gaming. This illustrates the highly competitive and entrepreneurial spirit of the UK games sector, as well as its agility and ability to adapt to new market conditions.

“In recent years, a range of new platforms and business models have given games companies more flexibility. Driven firstly by the rapid growth of the iPhone games market and then more recently and most significantly by Facebook and the social network games market. Games studios in this space often have a higher potential to be stable and profitable, better able to raise finance, create original new games, retain copyright and attain greater financial stability. Network gaming grew in 2009 to represent 38 per cent of the global video games market. Today, the largest games audiences and fastest growing games companies the industry has ever seen are in network gaming, particularly on Facebook.””

“TIGA is focused on supporting these new companies. We will disseminate best practice information and advice to new start-ups and to developers moving towards self-publishing. We will work with Jagex on Project Ignite to help developers to publish their games.

“TIGA will also continue to lobby the Government to create a more favourable environment for the games industry. This means the introduction of Games Tax Relief, enhanced R&D tax credits, action on skills and the maintenance of a flexible migration policy so that the best and brightest people can work in the UK games industry.””

Research summary:

  • There are currently 278 games companies in the UK . This figure is up from 264 in 2008. The industry recorded net growth in the number of games companies with 145 start-ups or market entrants. However, over the same period, 131 video games companies closed, the vast majority (84%) being games development companies.
  • Over 80% of new companies started in the last two year are focused on delivering network games as opposed to retail product.
  • Between July 2008 and September 2010 the UK’s studio headcount fell by 9%. At the time of the census (Oct 10) there were 9,010 people employed in games development in the UK . This figure is down from 9,900 in 2008.
  • Although jobs have been lost and companies closed across the global development industry, the UK has been hit particularly hard compared to territories benefiting from tax breaks for games production, for example Canada’s development headcount has grown by at least 33% over the same period. A brain drain to subsidised studios overseas is depleting British studios of skilled and experienced staff. A TIGA survey in 2009 found that 23 per cent of UK game development studios had lost staff to foreign countries in the preceding 12 months and of these 72 per cent said that their staff went to Canada.


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