Launched today, Ukie's 'Playing On' report shows the UK games sector has risen to the challenges raised by the current pandemic, rapidly adapting to new ways of working and maintaining very high levels of productivity throughout difficult circumstances, without over-reliance on governmental and public funds for support.
However, constraints in access to finance, business networking and broader economic impacts raise concerns around the mid-to-long term impacts of coronavirus, as well the ongoing day-to-day strain in areas such as workforce mental well-being. For some areas of the sector, such as events and services, short term impacts have been much more severe, and here government intervention has been welcomed.
Taken as a whole, the sector has remained resilient and, with a small amount of public support, would be in a prime position to lead the creative industrys' economic recovery in a post-COVID world.
'Playing On' was developed in consultation with businesses of all types across the UK games sector, from micro-studios to multi-nationals, developers, publishers, esports, events and game services.
The report findings were compiled from two sector surveys totalling over 300 responses and features insights from 15 industry roundtables with over 50 companies, two cluster-specific sessions and two consulations with the Video Game Tax Relief Working Group.
- 45% of games businesses have seen some increase in game revenues since the crisis started, with a further 4% reporting significant increases.
- Overall productivity in the industry remains high, with businesses working at 80% productivity during the worst of the COVID crisis.
- 80% of games businesses are making no plans to reduce headcount in response to the crisis, with 63% of businesses reporting no risk of closure in the next six months.
- Just 24% of games businesses of all types used dedicated government financial support during the crisis, with only 17% using the furlough scheme.
- Nearly a quarter of games businesses reported that they were continuing to recruit as the crisis unfolded.
- 56% of games companies are experiencing difficulties securing investment in the coming six months as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, with 24% believing that these difficulties will be either significant or potentially business critical.
- Furthermore, 67% of games businesses expect that future publishing deals will also be negatively impacted and that delays may impact upon their bottom line.
In order to ensure the UK games sector is primed to lead the UK creative economy, create high-paying jobs, boost national prosperity and cement the UK’s reputation as the place to invest in Europe, Ukie recommends the following courses of action:
- Expand the UK Games Development Fund - Significantly increase investment in IP through the creation of a Content Development Fund
- Video Games Tax Relief - Continue to support sectoral tax reliefs to ensure UK competitiveness
- International Trade - Scale up support for trade and investment activity, showcasing UK content and development globally
- Talent & Skills - Match fund an industry led skills programme