Over the Summer, we sent out our annual member survey. This gives Ukie members, from international publishers to small developers, from service businesses to charities, the chance to have their say on the work being done by Ukie and the industry as a whole from their perspectives. The survey covers the challenges currently facing the sector as well as inviting participants to highlight some of the unsung positive contributions made by the games industry to wider society.
We’ve tasked our excellent Insight Intern, David Thompson, to give you the rundown of what our members think.
With the current political landscape as volatile as ever, a lot has changed since the survey was conducted. This reflects one of the key talking points from Ukie members - Brexit.
Though 52% of participants say they are “somewhat prepared” for the prospect of a no deal Brexit, 37% say they are not prepared. A major cause for this lack of preparation is general confusion over the best course of action to take to prepare for the outcome of Brexit. For example, one participant states that it is “hard to understand what preparations to make” and another that they “haven't taken any actions yet due to the uncertainty”. To help reduce some of this confusion around the Brexit issue, we’ve published a No Deal Brexit Survival Guide.
Participants also raise concerns about currency stability, relationships with European partners and clients and employee rights, with companies saying they are checking “existing employee rights” and “ensuring all non-UK born employees have the right to remain”. Uncertainty around Brexit also hangs over the possibility of business expansion, with some participants saying whether they are able to expand “depends on Brexit’s outcome”.
Aside from Brexit, respondents point to recruitment, staff retention and access to finance (for smaller companies) as the main challenges they have faced over the past year. “A shortage of quality talent” appears prevalent in the industry from the answers given by survey respondents.
Despite these concerns though, most companies remain confident. 74% of participants are expecting their business prospects to grow in the next year. Medium-sized companies in particular take a positive view of their business prospects, with 100% of those with 25-249 employees anticipating growth in the next 12 months.
The majority of participants also brought up positive news stories about their companies over the past year. These stories include partnerships with the public sector, major investments, new hires, and the creation of new businesses. A new developer saying that they are now “staffed up, and within striking distance of releasing our first game” shows that there’s still plenty of space for new businesses with fresh ideas to enter the industry. Positive news stories also included collaborations between the games industry and charities, with games being prescribed to help people with alzheimers and autism.
Games companies are doing a lot to care for their players, getting involved with a range of charities like Autistica, GamesAid, Get Well Gamers, Kick it Out, Music for Youth, Special effect, Starlight and War Child. Several Ukie members are also working to tackle mental health issues. One participant says that they’re “currently working with various mental health clinics and schools” and another that they’re “consulting with experts” on mental health for a new project featuring mental health as a core game mechanic.
Another issue picking up increasing attention in the industry is accessibility. 62% of respondents say they “made efforts to consider accessibility during development” and 12% “made concerted R&D efforts” for accessibility of their games. However, while its positive that so many are making efforts to improve accessibility, there’s still room for improvement. The Game Accessibility Guidelines is an excellent resource for developers aiming to make their games as accessible as possible.
Now onto Ukie...
89% of respondents say they’re satisfied or very satisfied by Ukie’s work on behalf of the industry, with no companies saying that they are dissatisfied with our work.
“Providing connections to potential partners and networks” is considered by many to be one of our core roles, with 96% of respondents saying this service is important.
There’s clear demand for more events held throughout the country and this is something we’re listening to and acting on. This year we’ve travelled the breadth of the country, visiting 12 locations with our annual Hub Crawl tour and over the next month, in partnership with Amazon Game Tech, we’ll be hosting meetups in Leamington Spa, Liverpool and Dundee for game developers interested in using Amazon Web Services.
While we’re grateful that so many companies took the time to fill in this survey, in previous years the response rate has been considerably higher. We’re only able to tailor and improve our services and be the best we can, via feedback from our membership. This is why we value all of the feedback we receive and need our members to contribute to our surveys.
We’re also grateful to have received so much positive feedback and thankful for these kind words:
“Ukie do amazing work on behalf of the game industry in society's cultural, political, and educational arenas”
“Very accessible, great people with a vision to help grow the UK games industry”
“Ukie are the glue that holds us all together and lifts us up as a whole”
“We value our participation with the Digital School House project and the great work being done there”
“I couldn't imagine safer hands to be at the helm of the UK games industry”