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South West one of fastest growing video games development centres in the UK

The South West region of England has seen one of the biggest increases in employment in the UK video games development sector, according to new research published by TIGA, the trade association representing the games industry.

The report demonstrates that games industry talent is dispersed across diverse regions throughout the country, with the sector contributing strongly to the UK’s Levelling Up agenda.

Almost 80 per cent of those working in the UK games industry are not based in London.

In the period from December 2021 to April 2023, the head count of staff working in video games in the South West grew by some 9.9 per cent. The region accounts for 2.5 per cent of the UK games development workforce in total – equivalent to 611 people.

Games studios in the area include Auroch Digital (Mars Horizon, Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun), Ndemic Creations (Plague Inc) and Opposable Games (Salvaged!) – all based in Bristol.

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.

Video games remains one of the UK’s ongoing success stories. Not only are some of the biggest games franchises created here, but the sector continues to grow in terms of headcount, number of businesses and more.

The TIGA Making Games in the UK 2023 report shows that overall 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.

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

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, 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 (45.7 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, said: “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 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.”

Pictured: Auroch Digital staff at the launch of Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun