The UK esports sector has grown an average 8.5% annually between
2016 and 2019 according to a new report evaluating the potential growth of the
competitive gaming business.
Titled “The Value of Esports in the UK”, the report assesses the
economic impact of UK esports and provides an overview of the sector and its
impact on regional economies. It also examines the breadth of businesses active
in the sector and includes a set of recommendations from Ukie for the future
growth of esports.
The report, undertaken by Olsberg•SPI with Nordicity, was
commissioned by UK video game trade body Ukie.
Economic impact headlines
The UK esports sector has grown at an annual
average rate of 8.5% between 2016 and 2019.
The sector supported over 1,200 jobs in
2019. The UK esports sector represents just under 8% of the global
The UK esports sector supported £111.5
million in Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2019.
A major global esports event could generate 238
full-time equivalents (FTEs) of employment and £12million in GVA for
the UK economy.
Ukie has made the following recommendations for the sector’s
Partnership between Government and industry is core to growing any
sector. Ukie recommends that some form of regular engagement is established
between the industry and DCMS to advise on growth.
the UK’s esports industry
The GREAT campaign promotes the best of British. Ukie believes
that if the Government is serious about making esports an area of national
strength then it should establish an ‘EsportsIsGREAT’ strand of the GREAT
on British expertise
Esports draws on expertise from many DCMS sectors, from
traditional sports to broadcast media. Ukie recommends that the Government work
with the industry to support the export of esports products, such as content
for linear broadcast, that builds on the best of British talent and looks at
ways to incentivise more esports production and activity in the UK.
4. Funding technological innovation
The Government has taken a strong first step by funding the Weavr
Consortium, an esports demonstrator, as part of the Industrial Strategy’s
Audience of the Future challenge. Ukie believes that esports can serve as a
test bed for technology with applications across other sectors, and recommends
the Government back this with a small and focused Esports Technology Challenge
The UK already plays host to large esports events such as ESL One
Birmingham and the FACEIT Major, but Ukie believes more could be done. Ukie
recommends that the Government work with industry to offer attractive packages
to tournament organisers to bring their events, as well as the fans and
associated economic benefits, to the UK.
6. Becoming a
The esports audience is young and highly engaged. As the
Government looks to get crucial messages to this group, it should work with
esports businesses to buy advertising space and run campaigns.
7. Providing visa clarity
The immigration system is not always clear as to how esports
players and talent should apply for entry and visas. Ukie does not advocate for
any wholesale changes to our immigration system, but rather the development and
issuance of clear guidance in partnership with industry.
The UK must maintain a stable regulatory environment for
businesses. As the UK forges its new place in the world, outside of the EU, we
must ensure we are attractive to businesses and investors. Ongoing and clear
engagement from the Government with the video games and esports industry will
be crucial here.
Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO Ukie said: “Esports is global sector at the
intersection of technology, creativity, broadcast and entertainment – all areas
of real national strength for the UK. This report shows us that the UK has a
strong and growing esports industry, but that there is more to do to capture
the full potential of this exciting, high-growth sector.”
Leon Forde, Managing Director of Olsberg•SPI, said: “The report
underlines the scale and breadth of this highly innovative sector in the UK,
with really strong future potential.”
Dustin Chodorowicz, Partner, Nordicity,
said: “This first-ever look into the economic impact of the esports sector in
the UK shows that it generates employment and GVA not only at esports
companies, but also at streaming platforms and games publishers, and within the
tourism and hospitality sector.”