Tackling the big issues at the Games Finance Market TALKS

By April 17, 2024 April 25th, 2024 Industry News

The Games Finance Market TALKS took place as part of London Games Festival last week at the IET London: Savoy Place, with TIGA CEO Dr Richard Wilson OBE joining the debate as part of the European Games Developer Federation’s (EGDF) Building Success In The Hardest Of Times panel session.

Richard was joined by Vanessa Kaplan (SNJV), Davide Mancini (IIDEA), Nick Button-Brown (Ukie), Per Strömbäck (Dataspelsbranschen) and Andreea Medvedovici-Per (RGDA) as part of a lively and informative discussion chaired by EGDF Managing Director Jari-Pekka Kaleva.

As we know, the global games industry has been going through the most challenging times in more than a decade, but Europe still the place to be.

Each key game industry hub across the continent faces unique challenges and has strengths in overcoming them.

As such, the discussion saw the heads of national trade delegations to the Games Finance Market talk through the state of the European games industry and strategies for supporting success in their own territories.

In terms of the ‘state of the industry’ talking point, Dr Wilson began by recapping the findings of TIGA’s most recent Business Opinion Survey, which showed that developers face several challenges, such as limited access to finance/investment; skill shortages; and the challenge of discoverability.

Only 46% thought the economic/business climate was favourable to the sector (down from 66% in the previous TIGA Business Opinion Survey). More encouragingly, 73% of businesses reported that they plan to grow their workforce in the UK in 2024 and 54% expect their net profits to increase this year.

This fed into a discussion about London and talent, with the capital accounting for almost 5,400 of the UK’s developers, equivalent to 22.4% of the workforce across 587 companies, including Space Ape Games, Payload Studios, Chucklefish, Hutch and ustwo games, to name just a few.

There are over 20 universities in London preparing graduates for work, including Brunel University, City, University of London, Greenwich and London South Bank, which all educate under-graduates for the games industry.

Dr Wilson explained how this strong educational base for developing the next generation of games industry talent is a nationwide strength for the UK games industry: in 2021-22, nearly 13,430 students took undergraduate degrees in Games and Animation.

Dr Wilson noted that “The UK has traditionally welcomed workers from overseas: TIGA research shows that about 30% of the UK games development workforce comes from outside of the UK.”

He added that “TIGA brings industry and education together to help develop this excellent workforce. We operate an accreditation system that certifies the very best games courses in the UK and promotes best practice in games education – so far 42 courses are TIGA accredited.”

Dr Wilson explained to the audience that the UK’s big strategic challenge is to help more studios scale up and grow. TIGA recommends making the Video Games Expenditure Credit (VGEC) more generous and introducing a Video Games Investment Fund.

“The UK’s developer headcount was decimated 2008 and 2011, when we lacked a tax relief, while our key competitors benefited from generous subsidies,” said Dr Wilson. “VGTR effectively reduces the cost of games development, incentivises job creation, investment and studio growth.”

Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) came into effect in 2014 after 7 years of campaigning by TIGA.

Dr Wilson emphasised that VGTR has boosted employment in the UK video games industry. “Between 2014 and April 2023, annual average headcount growth in the UK development sector has been 9 per cent. Additionally, we have seen a huge increase in studio numbers, from 664 in 2014 to 1,801 in 2023.”

Our thanks to the European Games Developer Federation, fellow panellists and London Games Festival for a fantastic session.

Image Credit: London Games Festival


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