The UK games development sector grew more than four times the rate of the UK economy in 2017, says TIGA CEO Dr Richard Wilson.
Figures released today by trade association TIGA show that the sector grew to record levels, with studio headcounts, wider games industry employment, tax revenues, and investment surpassing previous records.
Developer headcount in the UK saw an annualised increase of 7%, growing to almost 13,300 in 2017. The games development sector also now contributes nearly £1.5 billion to the UK's GDP, up from £1.25 billion.
TIGA released the findings ahead of its forthcoming annual report into the state of the UK games industry, Making Games in the UK Today (TIGA, 2018), which is based on a survey of UK games businesses coupled with analysis from Games Investor Consulting.
Other key findings in TIGA's research show that the total games development workforce, including contractors, now exceeds 15,800 and the number of jobs indirectly supported by studios rose from 21,744 to 24,259.
Additionally, from March 2016 to November 2017 the combined direct and indirect tax revenues generated by the sector are estimated to have increased from £514 million in March 2016 to £613 million, and annual investment by studios rose from £562 million to £671 million.
"The UK video games development sector powered forward in 2017, growing more than four times the rate of the UK economy," said Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO.
"Our industry is growing for three reasons. Firstly, the UK is one of the finest games development centres globally, with outstanding small, medium and large studios creating products that sell across the world.
"Secondly, the prevalence of mobile and tablet devices, the launch of upgraded consoles,the popularity of PC games and the advent of Virtual and Augmented Reality are encouraging investment in games.
"Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, video games tax relief (VGTR) is powering growth... There is now a clear causal link between the advent of VGTR and headcount growth in the UK games development sector. The UK games industry declined by an annual average of 3.1 per cent between 2008 and 2011, before VGTR. Since the announcement that VGTR would be made been available, the average annual growth rate has been 7%."
Wilson also highlighted a number of challenges facing the industry such as cultural recognition and access to finance , calling for the introduction of a Games Investment Fund and the establishment of a British Games Institute.
TIGA chairman and CEO at Rebellion, Jason Kingsley, added: "Our industry continues to face challenges. Access to finance is challenging, particularly for smaller studios. Recruitment of highly skilled people can be difficult. We now need to reinforce our success by retaining and enhancing VGTR , improving studios' access to finance, developing regional games clusters, continuing to boost education and skills and enabling studios to access highly skilled people from overseas, including from the EU, following Brexit."