TIGA, the trade association representing the UK video games industry, reported today that employment in the UK’s games developer sector surged by almost 25 per cent between April 2020 and the end of December 2021, from 16,836 to 20,975. This represents an annualised increase of 14.7 per cent. Wider games industry employment, tax revenues and investment also grew dramatically over the period. The findings come from TIGA’s definitive report on the state of the UK video games industry Making Games in the UK 2022 (TIGA, 2022) which is based on an extensive survey of UK games businesses, with analysis by Games Investor Consulting.
TIGA’s research shows that in the period from April 2020 to December 2021:
- The number of creative staff in studios surged by almost 25 per cent and at an annualised rate of 14.7 per cent from 16,836 to 20,975 full-time and full-time equivalent staff;
- The number of jobs indirectly supported by studios rose from 30,781 to 38,348;
- Combined direct and indirect tax revenues generated by the sector for the Treasury are estimated to have increased from £907 million to £1,189 million;
- Annual investment by studios rose from £993 million to £1,301 million (i.e. £1.3 billion); and
- The game development sector’s annual contribution to UK Gross Domestic Product increased from £2,200 million (i.e. £2.2 billion) to £2,884 million (i.e. £2.9 billion).
Dr Richard Wilson, OBE, TIGA CEO, commented:
“The UK video games development sector is sprinting ahead, with an annualised growth rate of 14.7 per cent. This is the highest rate recorded since our survey began in 2007.
“Four factors are driving growth in our industry. Firstly, consumer demand for games, supercharged by the lockdowns of 2020-21, is stimulating growth in the industry. Consumer expenditure on games in the UK rose from £3.8 billion in 2019 to £4.3 billion in 2021.
“Secondly, the UK has a highly skilled and experienced workforce capable of creating content and original IP that sells all over the world. This world-class talent pool is sustained by high-quality university games courses, 35 of which have achieved TIGA accreditation.
“Thirdly, the launch of a range of new consoles from Sony (PlayStation 5) and Microsoft (Xbox Series X & S) in late 2020 benefitted the UK development industry, which has a strong track record in console games development. Both Sony and Microsoft now have multiple studios in the UK and are amongst the largest employers of games developers in the country.
“Finally, Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) is enabling our sector to grow strongly. TIGA played a critical role in the long battle to win VGTR, which effectively reduces the cost and risk of game development and incentivises investment and employment growth in the industry. The UK games industry’s headcount declined by an annual average of 3.1 per cent between 2008 and 2011, before VGTR existed. Since 2014 when VGTR was introduced, the headcount in the industry has grown on average by 9.9 per cent each year.
“We must ensure the UK video games sector remains competitive and continues to grow, and ensure the UK wins a growing share of the global video games market, which was valued at $180.3 billion in 2021. To achieve this, the UK must enhance VGTR and introduce a Video Games Investment Fund (VGIF) to improve studios’ access to finance. This will enable our sector to create more jobs, more investment and more economic growth throughout the UK.”
Notes to editors
Games Investor Consulting in conjunction with TIGA and its partners conducted surveys concluding in July 2008, September 2010, November 2011, December 2012, December 2013, December 2014, March 2016, November 2017, November 2018, April 2020 and December 2021 of all known British games companies involved in the creation of games (including developers, publishers, publisher studios, service companies and broadcasters with games divisions). Assessments of every database entry are made on a company-by-company basis with strict vetting and verification rules to ensure each entry is discrete (to prevent duplication via subsidiary or parent companies) and confirmed to be active in games development. The survey counts staff working in development and development support roles in games studios, games publishers and development service companies. A broad array of additional data is also captured including studio location, primary platform focus and company ownership structure as well as company start-ups and exits/closures.
Value of the games industry
The value of the global games industry rose 1.4 per cent in 2021 to reach $180.3 billion according to an analysis by Gamesindustry.biz of multiple data sources This follows 2020’s record-beating growth rate of 19.6 per cent (reaching $174.9 billion)
TIGA is the trade association for the UK 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. Our vision is to make the UK the best place in the world to develop video games. Our core purpose is to strengthen the games development and digital publishing sector. To this end, we focus on four strategic objectives:
- influencing Government policy via effective political representation;
- raising the profile of our industry to influence public policy;
- enhancing education and skills through our accreditation programme;
- the TIGA Games Education Awards and our education conferences; and
- promoting best practice through our membership services, including the TIGA STAR Employer Award and the TIGA Games Industry Awards.
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