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Screen Business Report – games industry’s economic contribution to UK nearly doubles in three years

The number of jobs supported by the UK games industry and its overall economic contribution reached record heights in 2019, according to the BFI’s Screen Business Report.

But how much value does the industry generate for the UK? How many jobs does it support? And what's its impact on the regions of the UK? Let's take a look at some of the key findings.

How much value does the games industry add to the UK economy?

The report, which examined the value of the UK’s screen sectors to the wider economy and accompanying screen sector tax reliefs between 2016 and 2019 aligning with current HM Treasury Green Book methodology, showed that the games industry’s total gross value add (GVA) – which encompasses direct, indirect, induced and spill-over effects - grew 81% from £2.91bn in 2016 to £5.26bn in 2019.

How many jobs does the UK games industry support?

The number of full-time equivalents jobs (FTEs) supported by the industry also grew impressively over that time period. The industry supported 73,370 FTEs in 2019
across the value chain, 24,020 of which were direct developing and publishing roles; an overall increase of 54% from 2016’s figure of 47,730.

How productive are games industry jobs in the UK?

Jobs in the UK games industry also delivered enormous value in terms of productivity. The average GVA per FTE in games reached £121,000 in 2019 – the largest figure for jobs across the screen sector and nearly double that of the UK economy average of £66,100.

What impact does the games industry have across the regions of the UK?

The games industry also had major impact regionally, as well as nationally. This most recent Screen Business report is at present the most robust and accurate regional breakdown of GVA ever published on the UK games industry.

While London remains the largest video game cluster, supporting 21,974 FTEs (11,268 of which were in direct development and publishing roles) and generating £2.06bn in GVA, the games industry generated over £100m in GVA and supported over 2000 FTEs in each of eight different regions across the UK (East Midlands, East of England, North East, North West, Scotland, South East, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber).

Importantly, growth was spread across the UK on both metrics. While 36% of growth in GVA in the UK games industry was in London, 64% of it occurred in the rest of the UK. The West Midlands saw the some of the most significant growth, with an 132% increase in total GVA between 2017 and 2019, while Scotland’s total GVA grew an impressive 77% through the same period. Overall, eight of the twelve national regions saw a total GVA increase of more than 25% over the period covered (East Midlands, East of England, London, North East, North West, Scotland, West Midlands and Yorkshire & the Humber)

Direct developer and publisher employment also increased positively across the country. Five regions (East Midlands, North East, Northern Ireland, Scotland and West Midlands) saw a direct employment increase of over 25%), with Scotland’s direct developer/publisher headcount growing by 60% and the West Midland’s direct employment up by 56%.

How much money has been invested into UK games businesses?

The report also noted Ukie research that showed a surge in investment into the UK games industry. £5.1bn of corporate investments were publicly reported between 2017 and 2020, with £2.79bn occurring in 2020 alone.

The report, however, did not cover the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the screen sectors. Ukie’s Playing On report from July 2020 showed that nearly a quarter of games businesses continued to hire at the height of the pandemic, suggesting the potential further growth for the industry outside of the reporting period.

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“The latest Screen Business report demonstrates the healthy growth of the UK’s video games and interactive entertainment ecosystem, one which is supporting jobs and contributing significantly to the economy right across the country,” said Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie.

“Policies such as Video Games Tax Relief have played an immensely important role in supporting our thriving sector, which is an important part of the creative economy. We look forward to working with Government to identify ways to continue to strengthen the ecosystem to create more jobs in this highly innovative and creative sector.”  

Read the full report here: https://www.bfi.org.uk/screen-business