Games industry brings £2.87 billion, nearly 50,000 jobs to UK economy

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A report has revealed that the games industry contributes £2.87 billion to the UK economy, along with employment for 47,620 people.

The report, entitled “Screen Business: How tax incentives help power economic growth across the UK“, was commissioned by the BFI, with significant input from UK games industry body Ukie. It states that the UK games industry directly employs 20,430 people full-time, who between them generate a contribution of £1.52 billion to the UK economy. But when factoring in indirect involvement (beyond the acts of making games then selling them), those figures rise to 47,620 employees and an overall contribution of £2.87 billion.

Ukie’s CEO Dr Jo Twist said: “The report shows once again that the UK games industry is an economic, cultural and technological powerhouse, establishing further clear evidence of the size, scale and creative output of games businesses in the UK. The report also makes clear the vital role that Video Games Tax Relief has played in the continued growth of the UK games sector. We look forward to its continued influence.” 

Since 2014, the UK games industry has enjoyed tax relief on a par with that enjoyed by the film industry (an assessment of which forms the core of the report and explains why it was commissioned by the BFI). If anything, the report’s figures are likely to be conservative: it uses data from 2016 and, since the UK games industry is on an upward curve, its current contribution to the UK economy could be even more impressive.

There is one possible cloud on the horizon, though: Brexit; a significant proportion of European natives work in the UK games industry, and collaborations between UK and European games companies are widespread. Tiga Chief Executive Dr Richard Wilson, whose independent games developers association was instrumental in lobbying for videogames tax relief, praised the effect tax relief has had on games’ contribution to the UK economy.

However, he added: “There is more we can do to ensure the future success of the industry. The Government needs to introduce a flexible migration regime after Brexit to ensure that our developers have access to the best and brightest talent from across the world. It is incredibly important to have talented staff who can create games that help us compete globally. 

“The Government should also look to introduce a Games Investment Fund. TIGA has long argued that more public funding should be made available for early stage development work, helping developers create new IP and expand their businesses. The Fund would provide pound for pound matched funding, up to a maximum of £200,000, for original game projects.”