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UK games industry makes record £2.91bn contribution to national economy

  • Game development and publishing directly contributed a record £2.91bn in GVA to UK economy in 2019. 
  • Development and publishing’s GVA contribution grew 9.1% year on year. 
  • Direct contribution of game development and publishing has exceeded total economic impact of sector in 2016, as reported in October 2018 Screen Business report. 

The UK Games Industry has made the largest contribution to the national economy on record, according to new economic estimates released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). 

Game development and publishing directly contributed £2.91bn in GVA (gross value added) to the UK economy in 2019, delivering a year-on-year increase of 9.1% from 2018, clearly showing the continuing health and growth of our sector. 

The last independent economic measurement of the UK Games Industry, the BFI’s Screen Business report (Oct 2018), showed the total economic impact of the sector in 2016, including that of the wider games ecosystem of support services, retail, esports and merchandising, to be £2.87bn. These new Government figures show that just three years later, this has now been exceeded by the contribution of development and publishing alone. 

These new statistics also clearly highlight the importance of the games industry to the future of our nation’s economy and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Our ‘Playing On’ report, released in July 2020, showed that UK games businesses were operating at an average of over 80% productivity even during the most restrictive lockdown period. The industry’s resilience, combined with these record-breaking economic figures, show that this is a future-proof sector, ready to help build back the British economy post-COVID. 

Interestingly, this latest official data also provides insight into the impact of Ukie’s 2016 campaign to improve Government measures through the improvement of Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes in our sector. The DCMS figures, which are based on SIC code definitions, show a massive 142% increase in reported GVA for our sector between 2016 and 2017 (from £0.96bn to £2.32bn). Over the same period, Ukie’s SIC campaign helped around a third of UK games businesses to change their SIC codes to those officially designated for our sector, according to UK Games Map data.  

While these new Government figures provide insight into the impact of game development and publishing, the full size and economic contribution of the entire UK games industry will be explored in further detail in early 2021 with the launch of a number of new resources. 

The BFI, again in partnership with Ukie, will launch their second ‘Screen Business’ report, which will independently examine key measurements around employment, economic contribution and productivity in the UK games industry, as well as deep-diving in the specific impacts of the Video Game Tax Relief and UK-made games. 

Ukie will also be relaunching the UK Games Map, our free online directory of all games business based in the UK, and updating our annual Consumer Games Market valuation, providing insight into how much UK consumers spend on games and game-related products.   

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said in response to the estimates: 

“These new figures underline how successfully, and quickly, the UK industry is growing. With levelling up firmly on the Government’s agenda, it makes perfect sense to back a sector that has 55% of game development roles based outside London. 

That’s why we’re calling for greater and longer-term investment into the UK Games Fund and into an industry matched skills fund. The UK needs to show it can lead the world while backing local communities and the best way to do that is to back the modern, innovative and resilient games sector. “ 

For more data on the UK games market, head to Ukiepedia.