A new report by TIGA, the trade association representing the video games industry, reports the UK industry is “on course for growth”.
In a new Business Opinion Survey, TIGA said 75 per cent of respondents – which are comprised of 57 separate game developer studios “including small, medium and large firms, developing games across mobile/tablet, VR, PC and console” – said they had plans to grow their organisation’s workforce over the course of 2020, while 65 per cent believes that the economic and business environment in the UK “is favourable to the video games industry”.
However, a smaller proportion of games businesses said the outlook for investment in their business was more optimistic than compared to 12 months ago (compared to 52 per cent of respondents a year ago). 56 per cent said that the outlook was unchanged, while 15 per cent believed the outlook for investment was less optimistic.
61 per cent of respondents reported that their company was performing ‘well’ compared to 77 per cent in 2019, while 32 per cent purported their company was performing ‘neither well nor badly’. 7 per cent reported that their company was performing ‘badly’.
TIGA’s Business Opinion Survey 2020 concluded the following findings under the headings employment, economic environment, investment, performance, prospects, and obstacles to success:
- Employment: 75 per cent of respondents plan to grow their organisation’s workforce over the next year (compared to 77 per cent of respondents a year ago). 21 per cent expect to keep their organisation’s workforce at current levels and 4 per cent think that their organisation’s workforce will diminish.
- Economic environment: 65 per cent of respondents to the TIGA survey believe that the economic and business environment in the UK is favourable to the video games industry (up from 62 per cent a year ago). 25 per cent consider that the environment is neither favourable nor unfavourable to the sector, 11 per cent feel that it is unfavourable.
- Investment: 29 per cent of respondents to the TIGA survey said that the outlook for investment in their business (for example, in R&D, training, new games development, etc) was more optimistic than compared to 12 months ago (compared to 52 per cent of respondents a year ago). 56 per cent said that the outlook was unchanged. 15 per cent said the outlook for investment was less optimistic.
- Performance: 61 per cent of respondents reported that their company was performing ‘well’ (compared to 77 percent in 2019). 32 per cent said that their company was performing ‘neither well nor badly’. Just 7 per cent reported that their company was performing ‘badly’.
- Prospects: 37 per cent of respondents said that they were more optimistic about their company’s prospects compared to 12 months ago (down from 57 per cent a year ago). 40 per cent reported that they were neither more nor less optimistic, while 21 per cent said that they were less optimistic about their organisation’s prospects. 2 per cent did not know.
- Obstacles to success: 39 per cent of the respondents to the TIGA survey said that the principal obstacle holding back their businesses was limited access to finance. A further 36 per cent cited discoverability as the biggest obstacle. 20 per cent identified skills shortages and skills gaps. 2 per cent referred to the challenge of standing out in a competitive market, 2 per cent cited a lack of clarity around the UK’s future immigration policy and 2 per cent referred to the slow growth of the virtual reality (VR) market.
“The 2019 clouds of uncertainty, political paralysis and relative economic slowdown have cast a pall over the industry,” said Dr Richard Wilson OBE, TIGA CEO. “A smaller proportion of games businesses plan to increase employment and investment in 2020 in comparison to our 2019 survey.
“The Government can help to drive our industry forward by improving our access to finance and to highly skilled people,” Wilson added. “On finance, the Government should maintain and potentially enhance Video Games Tax Relief. It should also consider introducing TIGA’s proposal for a Games Investment Fund (VGIF). The VGIF would make grants or loans of between £75,000 and £500,000 available to games businesses on a matched funding basis.
“With respect to skills, the Government can help by increasing the supply of well-educated graduates who are able to work in the games industry and by enabling our employers to recruit highly skilled people from abroad. Currently, EU workers make up 20 per cent of the UK games industry, while 5 per cent come from countries outside the EU. The Government should ensure that the UK’s future immigration system enables games businesses to effectively recruit highly skilled people from overseas,” he concluded.
“2020 is set to be an encouraging year for our industry,” added Jason Kingsley OBE, TIGA Chairman, and CEO and creative director at Rebellion. “We expect to see more start-ups, growth and innovation the sector. We can strengthen our industry still further by improving access to finance and skills and establishing a migration policy post-Brexit that is favourable to economic expansion. TIGA looks forward to working with the Government in 2020 to ensure our industry’s growth, success and prosperity.”