UK game industry shrinks

Government estimates gaming worth 540 million to economy in 2012, down 43% year-on-year

The UK government's latest estimates suggest the domestic games industry took a sharp downward turn in 2012. According to a new report from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the computer games industry in the UK was estimated as adding 540 million ($889 million) to the economy in 2012, down 43 percent from the 946 million ($1.56 billion) estimated for 2011.

While the number is down sharply year-over-year, 2011 saw a massive surge in the UK game industry's estimated contribution to the economy, so the 2012 number still represents growth over 2010 and before levels. On top of that, the industry headcount is up, as the report puts the number of UK employees in the field at 15,000 for 2012, up nearly 19 percent from 2011.

The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) weighed in on the report, calling it "obviously disappointing on the face of it" and cautioning that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport may be using incomplete information for its estimates.

"We think a lot of games companies are not being counted as part of our industry, and we are already working with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to see if this can be improved," UKIE CEO Dr. Jo Twist said. "This is hugely important in showing government the importance and potential of our industry, and we will be calling on games companies to help with this work in the coming months."

UKIE is asking developers to double check their Standard Industrial Classification codes, which tell the government which industry a registered company is working in.

"If we can get this right and make sure official statistics reflect the true size of the games industry, it will make our voice that much louder in getting the changes we need to make the UK the best place in the world to make and sell games," Twist said, "and to be considered in the same light as other creative sectors like film and TV as an economic and creative powerhouse."

Latest comments (6)

The only explanation for the 43% decline offered by the DCMS report is "re-stocking / de-stocking" which i think speaks volumes for the potential accuracy of the data.
In fact, DCMS actually admits that "data at this level of detail are volatile and dependent on survey data and should be treated with
caution" so I am not entirely sure it warranted an article on it, let alone one leading with its demonstrably inaccurate data.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
Headcount up 20%
"Contribution to the economy" (whatever that is (EVA?)) down 40%.

Someone didn't listen in arithmetic class.

In Silicon Spa, where a high percentage of the industry is, Codemasters slimmed by about 80 people. A few more than that lost their jobs when Blitz went pop and arose again like a Phoenix. But the available labour was mostly snapped up pretty quickly.
But high profile Sega, Pit Bull and Full Fat have moved to the area. And there are a lot of start ups.
So about 30 game companies in and around the town.
Very healthy indeed.
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Andrew Animator 4 years ago
A high percentage of the industry is in Leamington, is that accurate?
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
Just some:

Arch Creatives

2P Games

Codemasters Ltd


DNA Interactive Games (DNAIG)

Exient (Leamington Spa)

Fish in a bottle

Fluid Games

Full Fat Games

FreeStyle Games

Hardlight (Sega)




Modern Dream


Monster and Monster

Pixel Toys

Playground Games

Radiant Worlds

Red Phantom Games

Projector Games

RedChain Games

Supersonic Software

Team Popo

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Kristian Roberts Senior Manager, Nordicity4 years ago
I would agree with Mr. Gibson (above). Reliance on SIC codes for the video games industry will never give a reliable response (as I recall, they are all located within 62.01 and 62.02, which relate to Computer Programming and Computer Consultancy activities respectively (publishing is, however, broken out in 58.21). As Ms. Twist points out, these codes do a poor job of describing the industry. For example, they miss many/most of the micro-firms that may have sprung up following contraction in larger firms (DCMS does acknowledge this short coming).

With respect to the article, I think a more appropriate title would have been "DCMS reports UK games industry shrinking" rather than making it a definite statement of fact.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee4 years ago
Despite the unfortunate figures, the UK games industry hasn't collapsed.

The stats probably aren't fully reflective of the industry today. Even if we look at studies of other countries by different research bodies they may be counting things (and often have) that aren't counted in research over here. That's on top of "codes" that don't describe the industry very well in the UK and viceversa.
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