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63% of UK games businesses report no risk of closure during COVID-19 pandemic

Meanwhile, 80% do not expect to make redundancies and 56% are still recruiting despite difficulties

The UK video games industry has proven to be resilient in the face of a global pandemic, with the majority of businesses reporting lockdown has not put their company in danger of layoffs or shutdown.

These were the findings in a new report by trade body UKIE, which showed 63% of the nation's games firms claimed they saw no risk of closure within the next six months.

The report was based on two surveys with a combined 300 repsonses, plus 15 roundtable discussions with over 50 businesses, exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the UK games industry.

It also found that 80% of companies have no plans for redundancies, with 10% saying it was a possibility, 7% expecting to reduce their headcount and 3% unsure.

More than half of the games companies surveyed have even been recruiting, with 22% claiming to have continued hiring at normal rates and 34% experiencing COVID-related difficulties, such as onboarding new recruits remotely.

Only 17% of developers and publishers chose to use the government's furlough scheme. Even then, most report it was used for less than a quarter of their workforce. In fact, only 24% of UK games businesses sought any government support at all.

Despite the difficulties introduced by operating remotely as distributed teams, games companies report their productivity levels have on average remained at 80%.

It's expected that many developers and publishers will continue to work remotely for the time being, with a phased return to office as lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

With more members of the public turning to games during lockdown, 45% of games businesses reported an increase in their revenues during the last few months, with an additional 4% seeing a significant increase.

However, the pandemic has had some negative effects on the UK games industry.

More than half of the businesses surveyed expected difficulties securing investment over the next six months, with 15% reporting this is a critical issue for their company. Looking specifically at smaller firms, this rises to 68%.

Meanwhile, 67% expect the outbreak to impact their future publishing deals, 62% expect problems getting press exposure, and 58% expect an impact on their consumer engagement and audience acquisition.

There is also talk of delays to games that were planned for release in the next six to 12 months, which would likely delay payments for staff. 52% expect delayed payments, while 56% expect a loss or slowdown of work-for-hire projects, and 63% expect a slowdown in sales and game revenues.

This is all in part due to the cancellation of trade events such as GDC and Gamescom. Fortunately, this has been offset somewhat by the rise of digital events, with 86% of businesses saying online conferences and networking events do provide some value. 84% say these digital events meet some of their needs.