« Back to News

Ukie's 2021 end of year round-up: January-June

The Ukie team’s mission is to make the UK the best place to make, play and sell games across the world. But how exactly have we tried to achieve that over the past twelve months on behalf of the sector? Join us for a brief look back at everything we got up to this year.

JANUARY

As 2021 began, the Brexit transition period drew to a close and a long-awaited trade agreement on the UK and EU’s relationship emerged. The Ukie policy team covered what this meant for the games industry, including actions regarding physical trade, digital trade, funding, mobility, IP and questions about the continuation of the flow of data between the UK and the EU - the latter of which Ukie specifically lobbied for on behalf of the sector.

Meanwhile Digital Schoolhouse with Kucheza Gaming, Edu360, Into Games and WaterAid launched the Mobo Game Jam, a global game-making challenge in which young innovators from across the globe competed to create games that combine creativity, compassion and computational thinking to solve a worldwide problem. The winner, announced in April, was The Juniper and the Drought by Mischievous, a team from Norwich University of the Arts.

January also saw the launch of the Ukie Hub Crawl 2021, an annual event that normally sees Ukie visit up to 15 key locations around the UK to support games businesses on a specific topic. In 2021, the event went virtual – creating a flexibility that provided the opportunity for 12 different and unique events in the Hub Crawl. January’s events were Starting Up & Business Basics, Building Your Brand, Talent & Recruitment.

Ukie also became an official gateway provider for the Government’s Kickstart scheme. Arranged in partnership with Into Games, who helped manage administration and training on behalf of the industry, it has helped over 50 16-24 year olds on universal credit secure their first job in games.


FEBRUARY

The Ukie Hub Crawl 2021 continued into February, with events on Essential Tech, Managing Workload, Building For Your Players and Getting Investment Ready.

February also saw the launch of Ukie’s Devices for All campaign, encouraging companies to commit to donating laptops, computers and other devices – such as consoles or peripherals – to schools in need. With support from major video game companies such as SEGA, Nintendo, ustwo games, Hi-Rez Studios, Team 17, nDreams and Kuato Studios, the campaign was designed to provide students and families across the UK with much needed devices over the next few years as part of a long-term effort to close the digital divide.

February was also the month of one of the biggest acquisitions in the UK games industry this year. Codemasters was acquired by EA for $1.2bn, sparking a wave of investment activity that saw £2.79bn publicly ploughed into UK games companies – a record annual total.


MARCH

In March we released the UK games industry market valuation for 2020. This showed that the market reached a record £7bn in 2020, an increase of +29.9% from 2019, beating 2018’s previous record by more than a billion pounds.

We held a one year on celebration of the launch of the #RaiseTheGame pledge, looking over the work that the industry has done to support equality, diversity and inclusion in the UK games industry. This featured a Q and A with Ukie’s CEO Dr Jo Twist OBE, interviews with leading figures from our pledge founding partners, a roundtable featuring representative voices from across the industry and trailers from leading games that are diverse and inclusive that aim to inspire creators.

March also saw the publication of the Green Games Guide as Ukie and Games London partnered with Playing for the Planet Alliance. The guide is the UK’s first resource containing practical advice and steps that games business can take to reduce emissions and waste across their offices and operations.

London Games Festival returned for its sixth year, this time in its most accessible format yet, with 10 days of free talks and video programming entirely available online. 40 games from around the world were officially selected as part of a dedicated showcase to highlight creative talent across its four themes of Made In London, Narrative Excellence, International Innovators and Pick Up And Play.

Ukie’s usual global trade and investment programmes also went virtual this year due to the pandemic. In the past we’ve helped hundreds of British businesses make connections with international partners, leading to hundreds of millions of pounds of investment into the UK sector.

And so, despite being unable to physically travel to these locations, Ukie and Creative England launched a series of events surrounding international trade and trade missions in March of 2021. Kicking off with the Going Global event as part of the Hub Crawl, speakers provided insight into trends within the US, Chinese and Japanese games markets, as well as advice on how to export your games to these regions.

Indeed, the Hub Crawl continued through this month with sessions on Raising Your Profile, the Policy of Games, and Looking After Your Workforce.


APRIL

Thanks to conference partners Epic Games and Hi-Rez Studios, the Ukie Student Conference: Live took place completely online as part of London Games Festival and Games Career Week, boasting over 400 viewers over Zoom and YouTube.

The first meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Video Games and Esports in 2021 also took place in April. The meeting included an Annual General Meeting to elect old and new members into the group as well as a discussion of issues and topics that the group wished to cover over the coming year. Ukie provided an overview of the UK consumer market valuation whilst EA explained the industry’s wider effort of ensuring player wellbeing in light of these numbers, including the Get, Set, Go campaign. The meeting also invited UK companies IntoGames, Creative Assembly and Hypixel to discuss their experiences with jobs creation and growth over the previous year.


MAY

The Queen’s Speech in May set out the Governments plans and priorities for the parliamentary year ahead. As ever with major Government announcements, Ukie’s policy team covered what this meant for the games industry. The Government re-iterated its intention to publish the Online Safety Bill, specifying that the bill would ensure online safety “especially for children”, and went on to announce the Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill, the Subsidy Control Bill, the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill as well as the Environment Bill. The speech also set out the planned publication of the Levelling Up White Paper and the Innovation Strategy.

The Children’s Code, also known as the Age Appropriate Design Code, was announced in September 2020 as a new statutory code of practice intended to protect children online. In May 2021, Ukie produced a webinar with the Information Commissioner's Office, followed by the publication of a guide by Wiggin LLP to help games businesses get prepared for the Code’s implementation in September 2021.


JUNE

In June, Ukie and Creative England partnered again to sign up the next cohort of the prestigious Creative Enterprise Games Scale Up programme – a six-month programme devised with industry leaders to support games developers, publishers or support services looking to develop and grow their business. Participants attend three workshops a month all about creating and beginning the implementation of a comprehensive plan to scale their businesses, delivered remotely between September 2021 and March 2022.

Our Head of Policy Tim Scott worked with Director of Policy and Government Affairs at IGEA Ben Au to deliver an overview of the UK-Australia FTA agreement in principle. This was the UK’s first major FTA negotiated from scratch since leaving the EU, and one of Australia’s most ambitious FTAs ever.

June also saw confirmation from the European Commission that the flow of personal data from the EU into the UK can continue, which was also covered by our Policy team. As mentioned above, the continued need for EU-UK data is something Ukie has been stressing for some time. As a digital industry, the collection and use of data is vital for games companies to develop innovative products and enhance player experiences.

From the end of June, through July and into August, our EDI team held a series of PRIDE chats. These sessions, each dedicated to a particular topic relevant to LGBTQ+ communities, were led by founding members of the #RaiseTheGame pledge – Facebook Gaming, Newzoo, Electronic Arts, King, Jagex and Xbox.