Why is the UK gaming industry growing so fast?

Gaming in the UK

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a small, cold, wet, rocky little island in the North Eastern corner of the Atlantic Ocean with, what at best can be described as, a bit of a chequered past. So the burning question on everybody’s lips is, how are we brits, inheritors of the stiff upper lip, washed in a politeness that extends to the point of being awkward and refined in the fires of tea and tradition, one of the leading lights of the modern video games industry?

First, let’s take a look at the numbers.

The global gaming market was estimated to be worth $116bn in 2017 and is expected to reach $143.5bn by 2020. The UK’s share of that market stood at around $4.2bn increasing to $5.2bn by 2021. Not bad.

There are over 5,000 full time mobile games employees in the UK (almost a quarter of the 21,000 in Europe) and the UK industry supports around 23,900 jobs in total.

The most impressive statistic though is this, 15 of the top 100 grossing games of 2017 were made in the UK including Grand Theft Auto V, Total War: Warhammer and Football Manager. That is a staggering overachievement. It would be like New Zealand winning 15 gold medals at the Olympics (for those collectors of random trivia amongst you, they won 4 in Rio).

So how did we do it?

We’ll begin with the business side of this. If you’re an artist or creative designer or if you have ever said something like “Having boundaries means cutting people out of your heart” then this part of the blog is not for you and you have my permission to skip it. Draw a picture or something while the rest of us talk about government grants and tax policy, wooooo!!!!

So, for new start-ups the government offers grants of up to £25,000 to help new studios take their game from concept to prototype stage. This may not seem like much and it is, shall we say, unlikely that this support would lead to the production of a AAA title, but what it does do is provide graduates and future industry leaders an opportunity to bloody themselves on a small scale, giving them the best start to their careers, like playing your new wonderkid in a couple of friendlies on Football Manager.

At the other end of the process, the government allows companies to claim back taxes of up to 20% of development costs on any new game.

This makes it more profitable for the larger, AAA studios to produce games in the UK. Companies like Ubisoft and Rockstar, who spend huge sums of money on developing new games (Grand Theft Auto V is estimated to have cost $265m) can save millions as a result of this tax break. In fact data released by HMRC in July 2017 showed that this tax break has been worth £119m since April 2014.

The government also recently established the British Games Institute (along the same lines as the British Film Institute) to coordinate the support and promotion of game development in Britain and to facilitate the development of new talent.

Which brings us nicely onto the other reason Britain once again punches above its weight on the world stage. Queuing. I mean talent. Sorry.

First let me welcome back the artsy people, it’s nice of you to join us.

Second, there are 215 undergraduate and 40 masters’ courses provided by 60 universities across the UK specialising in the skills needed in the gaming industry from coding to drawing, from design to production. This, along with the newly established BGI has and will continue to provide a constant stream of talented people entering the industry. And for when home grown talent isn’t enough.

According to the Global Talent Competitive Index 2017, the UK is the third best country in the world at attracting talent. People come here for the razzmatazz, the food and above all, the weather. But seriously, despite how much we might knock it, we do love it. As the old saying goes, the only person who can hit my little brother is me. We are an open, tolerant, wealthy, English speaking country. London is one of the few cities that can claim to be the greatest on earth. Manchester is growing at an incredible rate (though it is on the wrong side of the Pennines) and at the end of the day, people want to live here and that includes the top gaming talent.

There are other reasons the UK gaming industry is doing well

Those reasons as well as those I’ve talked about in this blog will I’m sure, ensure it continues to thrive as the industry globally continues its rapid growth. I will leave you with this.

“British people would die for their right to drink themselves to death”

John Oliver

It has nothing to do with anything, I just liked it.

For those of you who want some more numbers, check out the links below


https://www.pwc.co.uk/industries/entertainment-media/insights/entertainment-media-outlook.html https://www.insead.edu/global-indices/gtci


Let us know your thoughts below. If you would like further information or you are interested in an IT career related to the gaming industry, get in touch with our specialist Joshua Wright on 0161 950 8844 or email Joshua here.