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Growth in UK games industry fastest ever recorded

Games development headcount is at an all-time high of 18,279 in the UK

Growth in the UK games industry has been faster in 2019/2020 than it's ever been since trade association TIGA started doing annual reports in 2007/08.

TIGA's latest report, released today, reported a 12.2% annualised growth rate in terms of creative staff in development studios, with the headcount growing from 14,353 to 16,836 from November 2018 to April 2020. The total games development workforce, which includes contractors, increased from 16,532 to 18,279 year-on-year.

Revenue generated by the UK games industry reached £907 million in 2019/2020, growing from £747 million. That's combined direct and indirect tax revenues. Annual investment by studios also rose, from £818 million in 2018/2019 to £993 million.

Overall, that means that the UK games industry's contribution to the country's Gross Domestic Product rose to £2.2 billion, from £1.8 billion the year before.

Looking at the number of jobs indirectly supported by games development studios, the number grew from 26,241 to 30,781.

TIGA's CEO Dr Richard Wilson, OBE, mentioned the positive role of the UK's Video Games Tax Relief -- which is a rebate against production spend -- in maintaining the health of the industry in recent years. Since its introduction in 2014, annual growth in UK games reached 8.9%, compared to an average of 3.1% decline yearly from 2008 to 2011.

Wilson also called for the introduction of a Video Games Investment Fund, which is something TIGA has been calling for for a couple of years. The association also would like the UK Games Fund to be strengthened as "many studios still struggle to scale up, access finance and skilled staff."

73% of the UK development studios are micro studios, meaning they have four or fewer full-time staff. "Over the last ten years, 40% of all the studios that existed in the UK have closed," Wilson added. But he also pointed out that the sector has been doing really well globally as of late.

"There is strong consumer demand for mobile, PC and console games, which in turn is helping to drive growth in the UK video games sector," he said. "For example, research from Unity comparing global mobile and PC games usage for the period Jan-May 2020 with the equivalent period in 2019 showed a 46 per cent increase in daily PC gaming and a 17 per cent increase in daily mobile gaming during the lockdown."

Earlier this year, TIGA called for increased game tax credits due to COVID-19.

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Marie Dealessandri avatar
Marie Dealessandri: Marie joined in 2019 to head its Academy section. A journalist since 2012, she started in games in 2016. She can be found (rarely) tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate and the Dead Cells soundtrack. GI resident Moomins expert.
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