The games industry in numbers

Data and industry statistics are important so we can tell our story. This page brings together the headline statistics that show how our industry has grown.

We've also compiled a huge repository of industry stats and data in our downloadable Games Industry Fact Sheet.

Topics below:

Ask Luke about data or statistics

UK success stories

The UK has a long history of making world class video games. With the global games market expected to grow from an estimated $99.6bn in 2016 to $118.6 billion by 2019, the opportunities for the UK games industry have never been greater.

As of January 2017, there are 2,088 active games companies in the UK (UK Games Map), operating at all sizes and scales, with world-class talent across the full spectrum of games technologies - from mobile, PC and console, to fast-developing sectors such as VR / AR, esports and Artificial Intelligence.

Recent global UK successes include:

  • Grand Theft Auto V by Rockstar Games, the fastest selling entertainment product of all time, grossing $1bn worldwide in just 3 days. By November 2016, it had sold over 70 million units worldwide and is the top selling game of all time in the UK, generating over £240m from more than 6 million physical copies sold - or roughly 3.5 sales per minute (Ukie / GfK). GTAV still continues to defy expectations, returning to the top of the UK chart in January 2017, 3.5 years after it was first launched. 
  • Batman: Arkham Knight by Rocksteady Studios, the fastest-selling game of 2015 and winner of multiple awards, including the 2015 BATFA for Best British game.
  • Monument Valley by ustwo, downloaded over 26 million times and winner of 20 international awards, including Apple iPad Game of the Year 2014 and the 2015 BATFAs for both Best Mobile & Handheld and Best British game.

There are plenty more. We support the Creative Industries website which features more great UK games stories. 

UK consumer market

  • The UK was the 6th largest video game market in 2016 in terms of consumer revenues, after China , USA, Japan, South Korea and Germany. Approximately 31.6 million people in the UK play games.
  • The UK consumer spend on games was valued at a record £4.33bn in 2016, up 1.2% from 2015 (£4.28bn):

Ukie UK Games Industry 2016 Consumer Spend Valuation

  • 2016 was the biggest ever year for games software, exceeding £3bn in sales for the first time, driven by record results in both Digital and Online sales (£1.22bn, +11.1%) and Mobile Games, which achieved revenues just short of £1bn (£995.1, +16.9%). Boxed software remains a substantial factor in software sales, despite the general trend towards digital, achieving £766.7m in sales in 2016 (-15.2%). 
  • The impact of VR and esports drove a huge increase in PC Game Hardware (£258m, +64.3%), with UK VR Harware (headset) sales tracked for the first time, valued at £61.3m in 2016.
  • The games industry's impact on broader sectors also showed a record year, with increased sales across game-related toys, merchandise, books, movies and sountracks, as well as game-based events around the UK, contributing to a record £100.5m in revenues across these segements.
  • More detail is available here.

The 2016 UK Games Industry Consumer Spend valuation was made possible thanks to data partnerships with GfK Chart-Track, SuperData, Kantar Worldpanel, NPD, Nielsen BookScan, The Official Charts Company and ABC. Contact details for these companies are available via clicking the "Read more" button below.

Books: Nielsen BookScan - Scott Morton, Media Analyst, Scott.Morton@nielsen.com, 01483 712 294

Boxed Software, Console Hardware, Perihperals & Accessories: GfK Chart-Track - Dorian Bloch, Business Group Director, dorian.bloch@gfk.com, 020 8600 0547

Digital and Online, Mobile Games, VR Hardware: SuperData - Joost van Dreunen

Magazines: ABC - Richard Gentle, 01442 870 800, enquiries@abc.org.uk

Movies & Soundtracks: The Official Charts Company - Chris Austin, Head of Operations Executive, Chris@officialcharts.com, 020 7620 7450

Pre-owned Software: Kantar Worldpanel - Fiona Keenan, Fiona.Keenan@KantarWorldpanel.com, 020 8967 4590

Toys: The NPD Group, Inc. UK - Jez Fraser-Hook, Executive Director, Jez.Fraser-Hook@npd.com, 01932 359 989

Looking at an alternative source of software sales data, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), UK game sales in 2016 generated more revenue than either video or music, increasing by +2.9% to £2.96bn, . This record figure makes the games market 1.3 times the size of the video market (£2.25bn) and 2.6 times the size of music (£1.1bn).

While physical sales of games declined -16.4% from £927m to £776 in 2016, digital sales increased +12.1% to £2.18bn, more than making up the difference. Physical sales were also down in both video and music, with video seeing a greater decline of -17.1% and music down -7.3%.

ERA also found that the 2016 digital sales of games (£2.2bn) was larger than the combined digital sales of video and music (£1.9bn).

Electronic Art's FIFA 17 was the highest selling entertainment product in 2016, selling 2.5m units, approximately 9% more sales than Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which sold 2.3m units.

ERA Entertainment Sales 2016

ERA 2016

UK Games Map

In September 2016, Ukie launched the UK Games Map, the first interactive, real-time map of the UK games industry. 

UK Games Map

Built in partnership with Nesta, the UK's innovation foundation, the UK Games Map builds on the methodology established in the 2014 Ukie/Nesta report 'A Map of The UK Games Industry' to provide the most complete dataset of the geography of the UK games industry ever compiled. A more detailed description of the UK Games Map can be found here.

The UK Games Map is constantly being updated with new data from across the industry - since launch in September 2016 there have been more than 500 updates to the platform.

Key findings:

  • There are 2,088 active games companies in the UK (listed in the map, as of January 2017)
  • 2,523 UK games companies have been mapped to date
  • 68% of UK games companies were founded since the beginning of 2010
  • Only 41% of UK games companies use the right Standard Industrial Classification codes
  • The map also lists 126 games industry service companies and 261 games-related academic courses.
  • As of January 2017, there 23 towns / cities that are home to more than 20 games companies, the top 10 of which are listed below:
Top 10 Towns by Company Count (Jan 2017)
Town / City No. Companies
London 566
Manchester 88
Brighton 63
Guildford and Aldershot 63
Slough and Heathrow 63
Cambridge 49
Bristol 46
Sheffield 41
Glasgow 36
Liverpool 35

Report: A Map of the UK Games Industry

In September 2014, Ukie and Nesta published a detailed report on the geography of the UK games industry, entitled 'A Map of the UK Games Industry'. The full report can be downloaded here, or via clicking on the image below.

Findings from the report:

  • In September 2014, there were 1,902 video game companies in the UK.
  • Between 2011 and 2013, the number of games companies grew 22% year-on-year.
  • 95% of UK video games companies are micro or small businesses. The mean number of employees is 120 and the median 49.
  • 54.6% on games companies are located in London and the South of England, however the Midlands (20.1%) and the North of England (17%) have a higher presence of video games companies than other creative industries.
  • 12 towns / cities were identified as having high levels of games concentration (in employment or company number): Brighton, Cambridge, Cardiff, Guildford and Aldershot, Edinburgh, Dundee, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Rotherham, and Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Economic contribution

  • In February 2015, the BFI published a report covering the games industry's economic contribution to the UK, entitled 'Economic Contribution of the UK’s Film, High-End TV, Video Game, and Animation Programming Sectors'. It can be downloaded in full via the BFI website.

Findings from the BFI's Economic Contribution report:

  • The core UK games industry directly employs 12,100 full-time employees (FTEs). This is split into 9,400 FTEs working in game development, 900 in game publishing and 1,800 in games retail.
  • The core UK games industry also contributed £755m in direct GVA to the UK economy: £639.1m from development, £63.3m from game publishing and £53m from game retail.
  • In 2013, taking into account the total economic contribution (including multiplier and spillover effects), the core UK video games industry supported 23,900 FTEs of employment, generated £1.4bn in GVA and contributed £429m to the Exchequer.

Video Games Tax Relief

Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) has been available for qualifying games companies to claim since April 2014. The BFI Certification Unit have released statistics on how many games passed the cultural test by the end of Q1 2017, allowing them to claim the relief. The full BFI release is available here.

The latest games certification numbers are:

VGTR Cultural Test Certification, Apr 2014 – Mar 2017
Certification Number EEA/UK spend £m Total Budget £m EEA/UK spend as a % of total budget
Final 364 423.9 548.4 77.3%
Interim 370 1,146.4 1,280.6 89.5%
  • Final certification covers games that have been completed and released, and have claimed their tax relief.
  • Interim certification covers games that are still in development but have been approved for the cultural test. 
  • Some games that have progressed from development to completed and released since the launch of the VGTR may be counted in both Interim and Final categories.

Since the relief was introduced in Apr 2014, the number of games gaining final and interim certification has increased significantly year-on-year. In the financial year 2016/17, 212 games received final certification while 187 received interim certification, an increase of +59.4% and +38.5% on the previous year respectively.

VGTR Games Certified 2014-2017

  • In FY2016/17, the 212 games that received final certification had a total budget of £258m, £220.4m of which was spent in the UK. For the 187 games recieving interim certification, the total budget was £482.2, £412.2m of which was spent in the UK.
  • Median budget for the projects applying for VGTR has also shown a huge year on year increase, rising from £0.2 million in 2014 to £0.7 million in Q1 2017.
  • Games qualifying through the 'cultural test' typically receive a return of about 20 per cent of their development costs.

According to earlier data released by HMRC in July 2016, Video Game Tax Relief had provided £45.9m to UK studios since the relief was launched in April 2014, the majority of which (£45.4m) related to 130 successful claim payments in the 2015-2016 tax year. In the initial year 2014-2015, 10 claim payments were approved for £500k of relief. 

In total, by July 2016 there were 140 payments made for 135 claims since the VGTR was introduced, supporting UK expenditure of £417 million.

  • The BFI publish as list of all video games certified as British through the video games cultural test, which can be downloaded here.

UK esports

  • In 2016, the UK esports audience will grow to 6.5 million people, with 3.1 million watching more than once a month. The audience is expected to grow 7.5% year-on-year to reach 8 million people by 2019.
  • Esports is popular with "milennials" in the UK, with the 21-35 age group representing 63% of the market. Women make up 31% of the audience and are most likely to watch when aged between 21-35.
  • The largest prize pool held in the UK date was the $765,000 ECS Season One Final, held at Wembley SSE Arena in June 2016.
  • The UK is the home to some of the world's top esports talent. One of the UK's leading esports teams, Team Dignitas were acquired by the owners of the US basketball's Philadelphia 76ers in September 2016.
  • Major UK football clubs including Manchester City and West Ham have signed professional esports players.
  • The UK's largest gaming retailer, Game, acquired Multiplay, one of the UK's longest established esports businesses, for £20m.
  • There is also growing grassroots esports scene in the UK's universities, with 3,000 players in the National University Esports League, representing 110 universities.

UK mobile games

  • There are 1,449 active games companies making mobile games in the UK (as of January 2017). (UK Games Map)
  • The UK has the largest mobile games workforce in the EU, with 5,000 full-time employees.  This represents nearly a quarter of all 21,000 mobile game jobs across the EU. (Deloitte and ISFE)
  • 71% of UK adults (approx 40m) own a smartphone and 59% of UK households (approx 15.9m) own a tablet. (Ofcom, Q1 2016)
  • 47% of UK smartphone owners use apps on their phones to play games – more that use apps for online banking (40%) or reading the news (33%).

Deloitte - App Use for UK Smartphone Owners

  • 44% households own an iPhone, 46% and Android phone and 12% a Windows phone. (2015 Q1, GameTrack)
  • The free apps with in-app purchase model is king, representing 76% of the revenue share of the UK for apps (Distimo/AppAnnie)
  • In terms of revenue per download, the UK is best positioned in western Europe with a potential profit of $0.47 per download. The UK is more profitable than Germany, United States and China. (Distimo/AppAnnie)

UK player demographics

There are several different estimations for UK player demographics available:

Newzoo

  • There are 31.6m players in the UK, approximately 50% of the total population. Of those that play games, 59% of them spend money on games, annually spending an average of $206 per player.

GameTrack

  • There are 18m people aged between 6 and 64 playing games in the UK, or 38% of the population in that age group. (2016 Q4)
  • On average, 11 to 64 year-olds in the UK spend 8.9 hours per week playing games. (2016 Q4)

GameTrack 2016 Q4 Average Weekly Hours of Gaming

  • Across all UK 6-64 year olds, 22% (10.5m) played packaged games, 18% app games (8.8m) and 21% (10.2m) online games. (2016 Q4)
  • Similarly, 23% (10.9m) play on consoles, 22% (10.6m) on computers, 18% (8.8m) on smartphones, 14% (6.8m) on tablets and 9% on handhelds (4.2m). (2016 Q4)

GameTrack 2016 Q4 UK Device Types

  • 57% players in the UK are male and 43% female. The largest single age/gender demographic is 15-24 year-old males, making up 16% of all players. (2016 Q4)

Internet Advertising Bureau

  • In 2014, IAB released the below infographic from their 'Gaming Revolution' study:

IAB Player Demographics

Specialised courses and a qualified workforce

  • UK higher education is a strong supporter of the games industry. 60 universities/colleges provide 215 undergraduate and 40 master video game courses throughout the UK in 2014. (Creative Skillset)
  • 23% of the courses are in London, 18% in the West Midlands and 16% in Yorkshire and the Humber: these 3 regions cover 57% of all courses provided. (Creative Skillset)
  • The top 3 universities in number of courses provided are: Staffordshire University (29 courses), University of East London (17 courses) and Sheffield Hallam University (16 courses). (Creative Skillset)
  • The computer games workforce is highly qualified, with 63% having a degree compared to 57% of the wider Creative Media workforce and 37% of the wider UK economy in 2011. (Creative Skillset)

Game-ready infrastructure

Mobile phone and broadband penetration are key drivers for the UK games industry. Ofcom's 'Communications Market Report 2016' report contains substantial data and analysis on the UK telecommunications network.

  • 86% of UK households have access to the internet. There are 24.7 million fixed broadband connections, 9.2 million (37%) of which can be classified as super-fast (more than 30Mbps).

Ofcom Internet Devices

Games Industry Fact Sheet

The Games Industry Fact Sheet is a compilation of hundreds of facts, stats and snippets about all aspects of the UK and global games industry.  

It's a big document, but there's a good chance it has what you're looking for! If in doubt, please contact Luke.