UK games market grows 12.4% to a record £5.11bn in 2017

LONDON – MARCH 2, 2018

  • The UK games market has grown 12.4% in 2017 to a record £5.11bn
  • The digital games market has exceeded £1.5bn for the first time
  • The sale of physical boxed games has bucked recent trends to increase by 3.1%
  • UK mobile market revenues break the £1bn barrier
  • VR hardware sales reach £100m in the UK
  • Console and PC hardware see huge growth in 2017

At its annual UK Games Market Valuation breakfast event this morning (Friday 2 March 2018), games trade body Ukie revealed the value of UK consumer games market reached a record £5.11bn in 2017, up +12.4% from 2016 figures. In a year in which overall UK consumer spend dropped by 0.3%, the growth of the games sector to over £5bn clearly shows an industry producing world-class content for an ever-expanding eager audience.

Game software remains the largest part of the game market, with overall sales increasing 8.3% to a new high of £3.56bn. Digital and online PC and console revenues were a major factor, up 13.4% to £1.6bn, although physical sales of new boxed software also bucked recent trends to lift +3.1% to £790m, driven by major franchises and the new Nintendo Switch. The UK mobile market also saw impressive growth, up +7.8% to break the billion barrier at £1.07bn. The success of both new game sales in both digital and physical contributed to a decline in pre-owned software, down 15.1% to £101m.

It was a bumper year for game hardware, with sales growing +25.8% year-on-year to reach £1.4bn.   Nearly half of all game hardware revenue was driven through increased console sales, growing +29.9% on the previous year to £659m, as players invested in new consoles such as the Nintendo Switch, PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. Console and PC peripherals sales remained broadly steady, with a slight decline of -1.4% to £296m.

The continued rise of VR saw UK consumers spending over £100m on headsets for the first time, as both mobile and tethered console/PC headsets made their way into the mainstream. The related increased demand for greater graphics processing power helped fuel a huge +51% growth in PC game hardware sales.

Looking at spending on wider game culture, spending on game-related toys and merchandising is up +6.8% to £72.9m despite a slight decline in the general toys market. The print media also saw a slight decline, with game books and magazine sales down -2.8% to £18m.

As well as home sales of game-related movies and game soundtracks, UK box office revenues have been included in Ukie’s analysis for the first time. However, a stronger game representation in cinema in 2016 meant that the 2017 music and movies category was down -29.9% to £17.6m.  

UK games events saw another strong year in 2017, with major expos such as EGX and Insomnia, along with a growing esports scene seeing ticket revenues grow +13.4% to £8.4m.

The annual breakfast briefing was attended by industry, media and analysts, and featured lively panel discussions from industry leaders about the state of the UK industry and expected trends in the coming year.

Data was collated to build the total UK Games Market Valuation using trusted industry data sources:  Superdata, GfK Entertainment, Kantar Worldpanel, Nielsen, NPD, ABC, the British Film Institute and the Official Charts Company, as well as further research conducted by Ukie.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie

“It’s been another year of growth for the games industry with UK consumers demonstrating they have a strong appetite for what our innovative and creative sector makes. New hardware such as the Switch have driven retail sales, VR hardware looks healthy and digital games across all platforms continue to grow. The games sector is constantly innovating and investing in new experiences, technologies and the skilled people to make an ever more compelling and diverse range of games, bringing tremendous value for money to consumers year on year. This valuation reflects Ukie’s commitment to providing quality, authoritative data for the UK games industry, including our subscription services such as GSD and GfK sales data.”

Dorian Bloch, GfK Senior Client Insight Director, Entertainment

“These UK figures reveal a solid performance for the physical software market, boosted by a return to growth in the overall console hardware market for the first time since 2014.  With Sony’s PS4 showing 4 consecutive years of over 1m units sold per year, a strong performance from Microsoft’s sub £200 Xbox One S and premium core gamer Xbox One X, plus the introduction of Nintendo’s Switch enjoying the best start for a Nintendo home console since the mighty Wii back in 2006, it is clear that the console gaming market is now enjoying a renaissance.  Special mention also goes to the stellar growth in PC gaming hardware, thanks to 4K becoming the new standard for gaming monitors and with both gaming laptops and gaming desktops continuing to grow at a frenzied pace.  Coupled to this the continued evolution and growth within the dedicated graphics card market and the premium headset market, GfK data shows that pc gamers are serious when it comes to acquiring state of the art equipment to fuel a premium gaming experience.”

Carter Rogers, Senior Analyst at SuperData Research

"While the rise of free-to-play business models has broadened the gaming audience, players in the UK are especially willing to pay upfront for major titles like Call of Duty: WWII and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. Console games and premium PC titles earned 42% of digital games revenue in the UK last year compared to 14% worldwide and 34% for Europe overall."

Image of consumer spend breakdown table

-- ENDS --