The games industry in numbers

Data and industry statistics are important so we can tell our story. This page brings together the headline statistics that show how our industry has grown. The full document with sources for the stats is available at the end of this page.

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The UK has a long history of making world class video games. With the global games market expected to grow from $91.8bn in 2015 to a total of $118.6 billion by 2019 (Newzoo)– this is an exciting time. 

Lots of new businesses and exciting opportunities are emerging in the UK, but we are not yet reaching our full potential and growing as fast as some other countries' games sectors or even the global average.

Recent global UK successes include:

  • Grand Theft Auto V which is the most successful worldwide entertainment product of all time including movies (grossing $1bn worldwide in just 3 days). It is also since 2014 the Number 1 top selling game of all time in the UK both in terms of units (5m) and value (£208m). (GfK Chart-Track)
  • Batman: Arkham City developed by Rocksteady Studios, winner of muitlple awards, including the 2012 BATFA for Best Action game.
  • Monument Valley downloaded over 26 million times and winner of 20 international awards, including Apple iPad Game of the Year 2014 and the 2015 BATFAs for both Best Mobile & Handheld and Best British game.

There are plenty more. We support the Creative Industries website which features more great games stories. 

Consumer market and relevance

  • The UK was estimated to be the 6th largest video game market in 2015 in terms of consumer revenues, after China (ranked 1st for the 1st time), USA, Japan, South Korea and Germany. The UK is forecast to retain its 6th place up to at least 2018. (Newzoo)

  • The UK games industry was worth nearly £4.2bn in consumer spend in 2015, up 7.4% from £3.94bn in 2014:

2015 Infographic

  • The industry’s biggest consumer market revenue streams in 2015 were Digital Console and PC (£1,224m, +13.2%), Boxed Software (£904m, -3%), Consoles hardware (£689m, -28% after the initial sales peak for next-gen consoles) and Mobile gaming (£664m, +21.2%)

The 2015 MCV and Ukie industry valuation was made possible thanks to the contributions of supportive data and market research companies. Please click on the "Read more" sign for their contact details should you wish to contact them and learn more on their area of expertise.

Books: Nielsen BookScan - Mr Scott Morton, Media Analyst, Scott.Morton@nielsen.com, 01483 712 294

Boxed software, Consoles, Accessories & Points Cards: GfK Chart-Track - Mr Dorian Bloch, Business Group Director, dorian.bloch@gfk.com, 020 8600 0547

Digital and Online Games, Mobile Gaming: IHS Technology - Mr Ben Colbeck, Director of Sales, ben.colbeck@ihs.com, 020 7424 2832

Music and Films: The Official Charts Company - Mr Chris Austin, Senior Operations Executive, Chris@officialcharts.com, 020 7620 7450

Pre-owned physical software: Kantar Worldpanel - Ms Fiona Keenan, Fiona.Keenan@KantarWorldpanel.com, 020 8967 4590

Toys: The NPD Group, Inc. UK - Mr Jez Fraser-Hook, Executive Director, Jez.Fraser-Hook@npd.com, 01932 359 989

The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) found that games sold more than video or music in 2014. The games market grew by +7.5% to reach £2.5bn, while video decreased by -1.4% to reach £2.2bn and music by -1.6% to reach £1bn.

ERA also found the digital sales of games (£1.5bn) to be bigger than the combined digital sales of video and music (£1.3bn).

Geography of the industry

  • A full report by Nesta (in collaboration with Ukie) on the geography of the UK games industry is available on Nesta's website, please click the image to retrieve it.

Findings from the Nesta-Ukie Map:

  • There are 1,902 video game companies in the UK. 

  • Between 2011 and 2013, the number of games companies grew yearly by 22%.

  • 95% of UK video games companies are micro or small businesses. The mean number of employees is 120 and the median 49. 

  • The industry is mostly concentrated in London and the south of England (54.6% of all companies). However the Midlands and the North of England (with respectively 20.1% and 17% of all companies) have a higher presence of video games companies than other creative industries. 

  • Amongst 18 travel to work areas (TTWA) were identified as having a critical mass of more than 20 games companies; 12 of these were further identified as having high levels of games concentration (in employment or company number): Brighton, Cambridge, Cardiff, Guildford and Aldershot, Edinburgh, Dundee, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Rotherham, and Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon. 

Economic contribution

  • A full report on the economic contribution of games to the UK economy is available on the BFI website, please click on the image below to access it:

Findings from the Economic Contribution report:

  • 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.

  • The core UK video games sector contributed £755m in direct GVA. This is split into £639.1m in development, £63.3m in publishing and £53m in retail. 

  • 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. 

  • See how we compare to the other screen sectors in BFI's infographic below:

Video Games Tax Relief

Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) has been available for qualifying games companies to claim since April 2014. The BFI Certification Unit have released statistics on how many games passed the cultural test by the end of Q1 2016, allowing them to claim the relief. The full BFI release is available here. The games certification numbers were:

VGTR Cultural Test Certification, Apr 2014 – Mar 2016
Certification Number EEA/UK spend £m Total Budget £m EEA/UK spend as a % of total budget
Final 152 203.5 290.4 70.1%
Interim 184 734.5 798.7 92.0%

Final certification covers games that have been completed and released, and have claimed their tax relief. Interim certification covers games that are still in development but have been approved for the cultural test*.

  • The take up of VGTR has increased significantly since launch, with 75 games certified in Q1 2016, a 74% increase from the same quarter in 2015. This includes games that received both final and interim certification.
  • Games qualifying through the 'cultural test' typically receive a return of about 20 per cent of their development costs.
  • The majority of games with final certification had a budget of less than £1 million.

* Some games that have progressed from development to completed and released since the launch of the VGTR may be counted in both Interim and Final categories.

Who plays 

  • GameTrack estimate there are 20m people in the 6-64 old population playing games in the UK, or 42% (GameTrack Q2 2015).

  • On average, the 11-64 old player population spends 8.9 hours per week on games (GameTrack Q2 2015).

  • This means the 11-64 years spend 153m hours each week playing games, or 7.96bn hours per year. (Extrapolated from GameTrack Q2 2015 data)

  • Formats (for all 6-64 year olds): 24% (11.2m) play packaged games, 22% app games (10.3m) and 21% (10.2m) online games in Q2 2015.(GameTrack Q2 2015)

  • Devices (for all 6-64 year olds): 25% (11.8m) play on consoles, 25% (11.7m) on computers, 22% (10.3m) on smartphones, 17% (8.2m) on tablets and 10% on handhelds (4.6m) in Q2 2015. (GameTrack Q2 2015)

  • Profile: 57% players in the UK are male and 43% female. 26% of all players are 15-34 year old males (GameTrack Q2 2015)

Alternate stats for demographics:

  • There are 36.4m players in the UK, which is 57% of the total population.  61% of them do spend money on games. The average annual spend per player is $160. (Newzoo)
  • Here an infographic about video games consumers, by IAB from their 2014 study "Gaming Revolution", please click to enlarge:

Exports and Imports

  • The UK games sector generates £2bn in global sales each year (TIGA)
  • 95% of UK games businesses export at least some of their products/services to overseas markets. On average, 45% of a UK games company’s turnover is generated from international sales (TIGA)
  • UK game developers export their products all over the world. The USA, China and Japan are the top three target markets for UK developers wanting to expand their business (NESTA)
  • The UK is a leading investment destination for overseas games companies. Recent examples of overseas investment include Warner Bros’ acquisition of Traveller’s Tales, makers of such titles as LEGO Batman, LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Harry Potter.

App and mobile importance

  • There are 21,000 jobs across the EU working on mobile games. The UK has the largest share of this, with 5,000 full-time employees. (Deloitte and ISFE)
  • Household device ownership in Q1 2015: 44% households own an iPhone, 46% and Android phone and 12% a Windows phone. (GameTrack Q1 2015)
  • Mobile gaming revenue stream (download-to-own apps and in-app purchases) achieved a growth of +21% versus 2013, to total £548m (IHS Technology)
  • The free apps with in-app purchase model is king, representing 76% of the revenue share of the UK for apps (Distimo/AppAnnie)
  • In terms of revenue per download, the UK is best positioned in western Europe with a potential profit of $0.47 per download. The UK is more profitable than Germany, United States and China (Distimo/AppAnnie)
  • Over half of the £500m UK app market is spent on games (Research2Guidance)
  • The UK is increasingly successful at producing games for social and mobile platforms. Key examples include Monument Valley by studio Ustwo, The Room, produced by Fireproof Studios, which was awarded the App Store’s iPad Game of the Year in Apple’s ‘Best of 2012’ line-up, and Candy Crush Saga, by King, which in November 2013 reached 500m installations on mobile and Facebook

Specialised courses and a qualified workforce

  • UK higher education is a strong supporter of the games industry. 60 universities/colleges provide 215 undergraduate and 40 master video game courses throughout the UK in 2014. (Creative Skillset)
  • 23% of the courses are in London, 18% in the West Midlands and 16% in Yorkshire and the Humber: these 3 regions cover 57% of all courses provided. (Creative Skillset)
  • The top 3 universities in number of courses provided are: Staffordshire University (29 courses), University of East London (17 courses) and Sheffield Hallam University (16 courses). (Creative Skillset)
  • The computer games workforce is highly qualified, with 63% having a degree compared to 57% of the wider Creative Media workforce and 37% of the wider UK economy in 2011. (Creative Skillset)

UK communications market (Ofcom)

Ofcom have published their "Communications Market Report" 2014 edition, which contains a lot of data and analysis (for example on fixed and mobile telephony, internet take-up and devices used and is therefore also quite relevant for the video games sector). Here an extract of their report, the key facts page. You can find the whole report, charts and data HERE on Ofcom's website. All the data is Ofcom copyrighted.

Games Industry Fact Sheet (More stats)