What on earth is that?! Wait… No, it couldn’t possibly be. Is that… good news?
Shocking as it may seem, things are pretty dandy for the games industry at the moment – on the economic side of things at least. According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), last year was a record breaking year for the UK games industry, with game development and publishing contributing a sizable £2.91bn to the UK economy. That total marked a 9.1% increase over the previous year, meaning that games in the UK entered 2020 with their best foot forward.
UK Games Growth
In a blog post about the new DCMS report, Ukie highlights the fact that the £2.91bn figure, which represents just the contributions of development and publishing specifically, in fact eclipses the economic impact of the entire games sector in 2016. In other words, just game development and publishing accrued more money last year than development, publishing, retail, esports and all other games-related businesses did put together only three years ago.
The 2020 Effect
The BFI, who published that all-encompassing 2016 report, have not yet produced a more up-to-date picture of the entire games sector, but it’s fairly safe to assume that those other arms of the industry saw an equally marked performance boost last year too.
The big question, of course, is how will 2020 fare after such a bumper year. Like almost every industry on the planet, early indications suggest productivity in the UK games business has taken a hit – but perhaps not as much as some may have feared. In July this year, UKIE reported that “UK games businesses were operating at an average of over 80% productivity even during the most restrictive lockdown period” citing the industry’s ability to adapt quickly as a factor in its apparent resilience – presumably referring to the efforts made to transition to working from home and the legal permissions around tools and dev kits involved in that.
Not all the findings in UKIE’s July report were as encouraging though. The majority of businesses expected Covid-related delays to impact their bottom line, for instance, and nearly 40% declared they were at some risk of closure in the next six months.
Full Steam Ahead
That said, there have been plenty of good signs as to the health of the industry too. Just earlier this week, Steam broke it’s own record for the highest number of concurrent users (just under 25 million) for the sixth time this year. Meanwhile, the Playstation 5 welcomed the biggest console launch in UK history last month, despite all the complications involved in simply going to a shop to buy one.
However, enough idle speculation – for now it’s probably best we just take comfort in what we do know and keep our fingers crossed that UK games growth continues in 2021.
You can read the full DCMS Economic Estimates 2019 report here.