Regional Economic Impacts of the UK Games Industry

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Think Global, Create Local - The regional economic impact of the UK games industry, released by Ukie in February 2020

Think Global, Create Local

Summary

Think Global, Create Local is an analysis of the employment and economic impact of the UK games industry across the towns, cities, regions and devolved nations of the UK, released by Uie in February 2020. It provides new benchmark figures for the number of full-time equivalent jobs (FTEs) and contibution to gross value added (GVA) generated by games companies throughout the country, the impacts of companies of different sizes and comparisions against other sectors.

The full report can be downloaded here: Think Global, Create Local

About this report

The report builds on the findings from the BFI's 'Screen Business' report, released in Ocotber 2018, which showed that the UK games companies directly employed 16,140 FTE roles and collectively generated £2.87bn in GVA.

By applying HM Treasury 'Green Book' principles and best practice economic modelling, 'Screen Business' is the single most authoritative economic analysis of the UK games sector to date. Think Global, Create Local uses the same methodologies to futher explore the same underlying data, ensuring robust results at the highest possible standards. As this means no underlying data could therefore be updated, all results in this report relate to the year 2016 and represent a snapshot in time for our sector. It should also be understood that since 2016, the UK games industry has continued to thrive, and that this report reflects that benchmark from which future growth can be reliably tracked.

Key Findings

  • Eight games hubs contributed over £60m in GVA to their local economies: Edinburgh, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Leamington Spa, Crawley and Horsham, Manchester, Guildford, Slough and Heathrow, and London.
  • 55% of game development roles are based outside of London and the South East.
  • The North West, East of England, West Midlands, Scotland and the South East all employ over 1,000 FTEs in development studio roles.
  • London's game sector is a billion pound industry, generating £1.4bn in GVA for the economy and directly employing over 5,100 FTE roles.
  • 23 towns and cities across the UK are home to more than 20 local game companies.
  • Scotland is home to a thriving games industry, with three major hubs generating £131m in GVA for the nation.
  • The North East games industry has the biggest impact on the local economy outside of London, contributing £1.90 of every £1,000 of regional GVA.
  • 99.5% of UK games companies are officially SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises, employing less than 250 people), which collectively contribute £1.6bn in GVA.
  • £339m in GVA is generated by micro-businesses of less than 10 employees, representing 13.7% of the industry total, and employing 3,664 FTEs.
  • The very largest games companies, each employing over 250 people, are hugely important to the UK economy, alone contributing £840m in GVA and employing over 4,200 FTEs, or 26% of the industry workforce.

Gross Value Added

Gross value added (GVA) is the measure of the economic value of goods and services. This can be used to compare the economic impact of different sectors or compare the impact of the same sector in different geographic areas. All measures of GVA in this article relate to data originally from the BFI's Screen Business Report (October 2018). The methodology of this report explains how direct and total GVA figures are calculated.

Regions with the Highest GVA from Games Companies

Region Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£M) Total GVA (£M)
London 588 5107 729.2 1390.2
South East 376 3266 197.3 356.3
North West 174 1315 89.9 157.3
Scotland 113 1156 75.0 131.2
West Midlands 134 1209 74.6 130.8
North East 52 518 56.7 99.9
East Midlands 95 906 42.3 74.1
East of England 166 1209 30.9 54.3
Yorkshire and the Humber 149 767 24.5 42.9
South West 152 423 18.5 32.5
Wales 54 172 8.2 14.4
Northern Ireland 35 77 3.2 5.6

Travel to Work Areas with the Highest GVA from Games Companies

A travel to work area (TTWA) is a UK Government statistical tool used to indicate an area where a significant proportion of the population commute to a larger town or city for work. TTWAs where games companies provide high levels of economic value can be found throughout the UK, as shown in the below table:

TTWA Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£M) Total GVA (£M)
London 573 4980 715.4 1362
Slough and Heathrow 62 595 58.8 116.2
Leamington Spa 34 907 57.4 100.7
Newcastle upon Tyne 20 372 48.6 85.8
Crawley (incl. Horsham) 24 579 47.8 83.7
Edinburgh 32 657 45.9 80.3
Manchester 82 369 37.7 66.1
Guildford and Aldershot 64 855 36.6 64.0
Liverpool 35 152 21.7 38.0
Dundee 33 306 17.6 30.9
Cambridge 47 853 16.4 28.7
Crewe (incl. Knutsford) 8 558 16.4 28.6
Lincoln 8 328 15.3 26.7
Brighton 65 277 13.7 24.1
Medway 4 146 12.3 21.6
Nottingham 31 194 10.6 18.5
Milton Keynes 17 95 9.5 17.7
Sheffield 43 331 9.9 17.3
Burton upon Trent (incl. Twycross) 8 113 9.7 17.0
Oxford 26 312 8.0 14.4

Scotland

Heap map of games companies in Scotland - highlights Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh as the game hubs in the nation.
Location Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£m) Total GVA (£m)
Dundee 33 306 17.6 30.9
Edinburgh 32 657 45.9 80.3
Glasgow 38 116 7.2 12.5
Scotland 133 1156 75.0 131.2

Game Development Meetups & Groups:

Key Facts:

  • Around three quarters of Scottish games companies are based in Edinburgh, Dundee or Glasgow.
  • There are however, small games companies throughout the rest of Scotland

Wales

Heap map of games companies in Wales, where Cardiff is a significant hub for games development.
Location Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£m) Total GVA (£m)
Bridgend 5 53 3.0 5.2
Cardiff 26 66 2.7 4.8
Wales 54 172 8.2 14.4

Game Development Meetups & Groups:

Key Facts:

  • Around half of games companies in Wales are based in Cardiff, with the remaining other half operating throughout the rest of the country.
  • Games companies provide a higher proportion of overall GVA in Bridgend than in any other Welsh town or city.

Northern Ireland

Heap map of games companies in Northern Ireland, where most developers operate in or around Belfast.
Location Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£m) Total GVA (£m)
Belfast 21 48 2.0 3.5
Northern Ireland 35 77 3.2 5.6

Game Development Meetups & Groups:

Key Facts:

  • 5 of Northern Ireland’s 6 counties have games companies operating in them.
  • The majority of games companies in Northern Ireland are in Belfast

North West

Location Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£m) Total GVA (£m)
Crewe 8 558 16.4 28.6
Liverpool 35 152 21.7 38.0
Manchester 82 369 37.7 66.1
North West 174 1315 89.9 157.3

Game Development Meetups & Groups:

Key Facts:

  • Crewe, Liverpool and Manchester are hubs for games development.
  • With around 1,300 games industry jobs in the north west, the region comes 3rd for number of games jobs
  • The region also comes 3rd for total GVA from the industry

North East

Location Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£m) Total GVA (£m)
Newcastle upon Tyne 20 372 48.6 85.8
Sunderland 12 84 3.0 5.3
North East 52 518 56.7 99.9

Game Development Meetups & Groups:

Key Facts:

  • Major international games companies have offices in Newcastle and Sunderland.
  • The region also has a higher proportion of games companies with 5-24 employees than any other.
  • The north east ranks 2nd only to London for productivity

Yorkshire and The Humber

Location Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£m) Total GVA (£m)
Leeds 27 187 6.4 11.2
Sheffield 43 331 9.9 17.3
Wakefield and Castleford 7 92 1.6 2.8
York 14 30 1.2 2.0
Yorkshire and the Humber 149 767 24.5 42.9

Game Development Meetups & Groups:

Key Facts:

  • Games companies employing large numbers of people operate in Leeds, Sheffield and Wakefield.
  • Companies in Wakefield and Sheffield in particular provide major economic value when compared with other sectors

West Midlands

Location Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£m) Total GVA (£m)
Birmingham 35 86 4.6 8.0
Leamington Spa 34 907 57.4 100.7
West Midlands 134 1209 74.6 130.8

Game Development Meetups & Groups:

Key Facts:

  • Games companies in Leamington Spa in particular provide major economic value to the West Midlands.
  • The town is ranked 1st for economic contribution provided by games companies in proportion to other industries

East Midlands

Location Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£m) Total GVA (£m)
Burton Upon Trent 8 113 9.7 17.0
Derby 11 46 2.6 4.6
Lincoln 8 328 15.3 26.7
Nottingham 31 194 10.6 18.5
East Midlands 95 906 42.3 74.1

Game Development Meetups & Groups:

Key Facts:

  • Large, prestigious games companies are operating in Twycross, Lincoln and Nottingham
  • Around 900 games workers in total are employed in the East Midlands

East of England

Location Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£m) Total GVA (£m)
Cambridge 47 853 16.4 28.7
Chelmsford 10 26 1.4 2.4
East of England 166 1209 30.9 54.3

Game Development Meetups & Groups:

Key Facts:

  • There are around 1,200 games jobs in the East of England.
  • Cambridge ranks 1st by number of game jobs per capita.

London

Location Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£m) Total GVA (£m)
London 588 5107 729.2 1390.2

Game Development Meetups & Groups:

Key Facts:

  • There are over 580 active games companies in London
  • The games industry in London contributes over £1.3bn of value to the economy
  • Over 5,000 people in the capital work in games
  • Around 2% of all creative sector workers in London work in games

South West

Location Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£m) Total GVA (£m)
Falmouth 5 27 1.5 2.6
Bristol 46 139 5.5 9.7
South West 152 423 18.5 32.5

Game Development Meetups & Groups:

Key Facts:

  • Though there are no major multinational publishers or developers based in the South West, the region is still home to over 150 games companies

South East

Location Games Companies Full-Time Employees Direct GVA (£m) Total GVA (£m)
Basingstoke 12 88 1.3 2.2
Brighton 65 277 13.7 24.1
Crawley and Horsham 24 579 47.8 83.7
Guildford and Aldershot 64 855 36.6 64.0
Oxford 26 312 8.0 14.4
Medway 4 146 12.3 21.6
Milton Keynes 5 95 9.5 17.7
Reading 14 162 4.8 8.5
Slough and Heathrow 62 595 58.8 116.2
South East 376 3266 197.3 356.3

Game Development Meetups & Groups:

Key Facts:

  • There are over 370 active games companies in the South East
  • Over 3,200 people in the South East are employed in the games industry.
  • Locations such as Guildford, Oxford and Brighton have some of the largest games companies in the UK

Previous Reports

2018 Stats

  • As of October 2018 there were 2,277 active games companies in the UK (UK Games Map)
  • The map also listed 151 games industry service companies and 231 games-related courses across 102 universities and academic institutions in 2018. (UK Games Map)
  • The creative industries contributed a record £101.5bn in GVA to the UK economy in 2017, and in crease of 7.1% on the previous year. (DCMS, Nov 2018)
  • Overall in 2016, the UK games industry provided 47,620 FTE jobs and contibuted £2.87bn in GVA to the UK economy. (Olsberg SPI / BFI, Oct 2018)
  • The UK games industry directly employs 20,430 FTEs in development, publishing and retail roles, which contibute £1.52bn in direct GVA to the economy. (Olsberg SPI / BFI, Oct 2018)
Subsector Employment (FTEs) GVA (£m)
Publishing 2,300 526.6
Digital Retail 310 31.7
Physical Retail 3,980 132.0
Total 20,430 1.52
  • The economic impact of the growing UK Esports sector was also assessed for the first time and was shown to have supported 470 FTE jobs and contributed £18.4m in GVA in 2016. (Olsberg SPI / BFI, Oct 2018)
  • In 2016, the UK games industry spent £1.25bn on game development. (Olsberg SPI / BFI, Oct 2018)
  • In the period 2015-2017, there was at least £1.75bn of inward investment in the UK games industry. (Olsberg SPI / BFI, Oct 2018)
  • The VGTR supports 9,240 FTE jobs across the UK games industry, including 4,320 directly in development roles (31% of the total UK development workforce). (Olsberg SPI / BFI, Oct 2018)
  • VGTR games represented £389.9m of UK development spend, 31% of the total development spend. Overall, projects supported by the VGTR contibuted£525m in GVA to the UK economy and £158m in tax revenue. (Olsberg SPI / BFI, Oct 2018)
  • 68% of VGTR-supported games would not be made in the UK, or at all, without the relief in place. (Olsberg SPI / BFI, Oct 2018)
  • For every £1 the Government invested into the games sector via VGTR, an additional £4 in GVA was generated for the UK economy. (Olsberg SPI / BFI, Oct 2018)
  • Of all the screen sector tax reliefs, the games sector was shown to have the highest rate of productivity, where each employee generated an average of £83,800 in GVA for the economy, significantly above the national industrial average of £62,100. (Olsberg SPI / BFI, Oct 2018)
  • In November 2018 there were 5.7m professional developers in Europe, up by 200,000 on 2017. This compares to the 4.4m in the US, which has that stayed flat year on year. The UK is home to 830,500 professional developers. (Atomico, Dec 2018)
  • In 2018, The UK was the No.1 European destination for international movers in the tech ecosystem, accounting for 20.9% of all international movers. (Atomico, Dec 2018)
  • 44% of founders and employees of private tech start-ups in the UK and Ireland are migrants, the highest percentage of any European region. (Atomico, Dec 2018)
  • Valve’s Steam platform's top 100 highest grossing games of 2017 list featured 15 games made or partly made in the UK, including two games in the top “platinum tier”, one in the gold tier and four in silver. (Steam / Ukie, Jan 2018)
  • Valve’s Steam platform's top 92 games by peak simultaneous players featured 14 games made or partly made in the UK (15.2%), including Rockstar’s ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ in the top "over 100k simultaneous players" tier and six games from the UK (or 40%) in the second "over 50k players" tier. (Steam / Ukie, Jan 2018)
  • Valve’s Steam platforms top 10 highest grossing VR games featured 11 games made in the UK, including one game partly made in the UK in the top “platinum” tier, one UK-made game in the gold tier and four in silver. (Steam / Ukie, Jan 2018)

2017 Stats

  • In 2017, the UK has been ranked as third best country in the world for the ability to attract, retain, train and educate skilled workers, according to the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (INSEAD, Jan 2017)
  • London, Birmingham and Cardiff act as talent magnets, helping the UK attract more highly-skilled workers. In 2017 Cardiff was the 11th best city worldwide at attracting, growing and retaining talent, with London listed 16th and Birmingham 17th. (INSEAD, Jan 2017)

2016 Stats

  • As of 2016, only 41% of UK games companies were using the correct Standard Industrial Classification codes. (UK Games Map Oct 2016)
  • As of 2016, 68% of UK games companies had been founded since the beginning of 2010. (UK Games Map Oct 2016)
  • In 2016, European games industry professionals rated the UK as the place in Europe where both the best games were made at the time and the best games will be made in five year’s time. (GDC, Aug 2016)
  • The UK’s creative industries were worth a record £84.1 billion to the UK economy in 2016. The figures show the sector growing at almost twice the rate of the wider UK economy - generating £9.6million per hour. (Gov.co.uk, Jan 2016)

2015 Stats

  • In 2013, the core UK video games sector (video games made wholly or partially in the UK) supported 12,100 FTEs of direct employment. This is split into 9,400 FTEs in development, 900 in publishing and 1,800 in retail. (BFI, Feb 2015)
  • In 2013, the core UK video games sector (video games made wholly or partially in the UK) contributed £755m in direct GVA. This is split into £639.1m in development, £63.3m in publishing and £53m in retail. (BFI, Feb 2015)
  • In 2013, taking into account the total economic contribution (including multiplier and spillover effects) the core UK video games sector (video games made wholly or partially in the UK) supported 23,900 FTEs of employment, generated £1.4bn in GVA and contributed £429m to the Exchequer. (BFI, Feb 2015)
  • When looking at regional distribution of employment in 2013: for development most FTEs were in London (27%), the South East (21%), the East of England (10%) and West Midlands (10%). For publishing most FTEs were in the South East (32%), London (31%), the East of England (18%) and West Midlands (7%). (BFI, Feb 2015)