The UK video games industry expanded at a record rate between November 2018 and April 2020, according to new research released over the weekend by TIGA, the industry's trade association. During that period, jobs growth in the industry grew at a record rate, and at the end of April the total games development workforce, including contractors, stood at over 18,000, while more than 30,000 jobs were indirectly supported by game development studios.
However, the research also found that like other creative industries, the video games sector tends to face challenges of scale, talent, and skills. Dr. Richard Wilson, the CEO of TIGA, said that 73 percent of the sector comprises micro-studios, or studios with four or fewer full-time staff—essentially micro-SMEs—and that 40 percent of all studios have closed over the last decade. Critically, the sector is unable to access highly skilled people, possibly because of the high level of qualifications required—statistics from the association indicate that 80 percent of the staff in the average studio have at least a degree.
"We should continue to strengthen industry-university links, enhance skils and training and enable UK games companies to recruit highly skilled workers from the EU and beyond. This will enble our sector to increase employment, increase investment and increase exports," Wilson said of tackling this particular challenge.
Although the figures from this latest research do not extend to the impact of COVID-19, a separate study by TIGA found that as of May this year, businesses in the video game industry were generally less concerned about their finances, with a third actually expecting their revenues to remain stable or even increase—a prediction that the study attributes to more people entertaining themselves with games while staying at home. That study also found that the video games industry was faring relatively well in comparison to other sectors, and was in fact quite well equipped to ride out the pandemic and the following recession.