Employment in the UK’s games development sector has surged by 11.4 per cent, while studio numbers have increased by almost 18 per cent, according to new figures released this week by TIGA, the trade association representing the UK video games industry.

During the period from December 2021 and April 2023, wider games industry employment, tax revenues and investment also grew markedly.

The findings come from TIGA’s definitive report on the state of the UK video games industry Making Games in the UK 2023 (TIGA, 2023), which is based on an extensive survey of UK games businesses, with analysis by Games Investor Consulting.

TIGA’s research shows that in the period from December 2021 to April 2023:

  • The number of creative staff in studios surged by 15.2 per cent and at an annualised rate of 11.4 per cent from 20,975 in December 2021 to 24,155 full-time and full-time equivalent staff in April 2023. The total workforce including freelancers grew to 25,026.
  • The number of jobs indirectly supported by studios in the supply chain rose from 38,348 to 44,162.
  • Studio numbers grew from 1,528 to 1,801, an increase of 17.8 per cent.
  • Combined direct and indirect tax revenues generated by the sector for the Treasury are estimated to have increased from £1.2 billion to £1.5 billion.
  • Annual investment by studios rose from £1.3 billion to £1.66 billion.
  • The game development sector’s annual contribution to UK Gross Domestic Product increased from £2.9 billion to £3.68 billion.

Dr Richard Wilson, OBE, TIGA CEO, commented:

“The UK video games development sector is powering ahead. Employment is soaring and studios are continuing to hire at near record rates. With high growth games studios in many regions, the sector is supporting economic growth across the UK.

“Our sector’s outstanding long-term prospects are underpinned by strong consumer demand, rising Foreign Direct Investment which is attracted by our highly skilled workforce and Video Games Tax Relief, which reduces the cost of games development.

“If the UK is to win an even larger share of the growing market for video games, then the UK Government should enhance the generosity of our Video Games Tax Relief (soon to be transformed into a Video Games Expenditure Credit), introduce a Video Games Investment Fund to help more small studios to scale up and establish an Industrial Secondments Programme to drive skills development.”

Meanwhile, the TIGA report has highlighted that almost 80 per cent of the UK’s games development workforce is located outside of London.

While London employs over 22 per cent of the games development workforce across 587 companies, 77 per cent of all games development staff in the UK are employed outside of the capital.

While approximately one-fifth of development staff are located in the South East of England, the third, fourth and fifth largest centres of games development by headcount are the North West of England, the West Midlands and Scotland, respectively.

Including indirect staff, games development companies support over 53,000 jobs outside of London. In percentage terms, the strongest headcount growth over the period December 2021 to April 2023 was found in the North East (47.5 per cent), Yorkshire and Humber (33.9 per cent) and Northern Ireland (33.5 per cent).

UK regions2023 share of UK development workforce
London22.4%
South East19.9%
North West12%
West Midlands10%
Scotland9.1%
East of England6.7%
Yorkshire & Humber5.8%
North East5.4%
East Midlands4.9%
South West2.5%
Northern Ireland0.7%
Wales0.6%

Dr Richard Wilson, OBE, TIGA CEO, said:

“While London employs over 22 per cent of the games development workforce across 587 companies, 77 per cent of all games development staff in the UK are employed outside of the capital. Approximately one-fifth of development staff are located in the South East of England, while the third, fourth and fifth largest centres of games development by headcount are the North West of England, the West Midlands and Scotland, respectively.

“Including indirect staff, games development companies support over 53,000 jobs outside of London. In percentage terms, the strongest headcount growth over the period December 2021 to April 2023 was found in the North East (47.5 per cent), Yorkshire and Humber (33.9 per cent) and Northern Ireland (33.5 per cent).

“The video games industry has immense potential to contribute to the Levelling Up agenda, not least due to the 44,000 people working in the games supply chain which is mostly based outside of London. Providing high-skilled employment opportunities, the sector has established strong creative industry clusters right across the UK.”

Jason Kingsley OBE, TIGA Chairman and CEO and Creative Director at Rebellion, added:

“TIGA’s research illustrates the video games industry’s strong potential to drive regional economic growth. My personal experience at Rebellion Developments further reinforces this notion, as our studios actively contribute to the economic expansion of cities and regions such as Liverpool, Oxford, Warwick, and Yorkshire. By enhancing Video Games Tax Relief, improving access to finance, and bolstering skills development, we can empower and fortify the UK’s video games clusters, thus making a positive impact on the overall economy of the country.”

By Suzi Stephenson.

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