Screen Business 2021: Value & Size Of Scottish Games Sector Hit New Highs

Screen Business 2021: Value & Size Of Scottish Games Sector Hit New Highs

The gross value add (GVA) of games in Scotland hit £352 million in 2019, with the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs hitting 6,005, according to the new Screen Business 2021 Report released by the BFI.

Based on number from 2019, the report shows that Scotland’s games industry GVA grew from £198.6 million in 2017, making the sector responsible for 7% of the overall UK GVA. In terms of employment, the number of FTE roles rose from 3,068 in 2017, which means that Scotland now provides 8.4% of the UK’s industry workforce.

The growth in headcount for development/publishing staff gave Scotland overall growth of 60%, the highest increase in the UK.

Screen Business 2021

The Screen Business 2021 report analyses the crucial contribution of tax reliefs to the continued growth of the screen industries and economy in the UK for the three-year period 2017 to 2019.

The report provides updated analysis from our previous 2018 report on the impact of each of the screen sector tax reliefs in place in the UK. Those tax reliefs cover film, high-end television, video games, TV animation programmes and children’s TV programmes.

UK Games Sector Value

The report examined the value of the UK’s screen sectors – including games – to the UK’s economy and accompanying screen sector tax reliefs between 2016 and 2019. The results ,aligned with current HM Treasury Green Book methodology, showed that the games industry total GVA (which includes direct, indirect, induced and spill-over effects) increased 81% from £2.91 billion in 2016 to £5.26 billion in 2019.

Jobs In The UK Games Sector

The number of full-time jobs supported by the industry grew between 2017-2019. The industry supported 73,370 FTEs in 2019 across the whole value chain. 24,020 of these were direct development and publishing roles – an increase of 54% from 47,730 in 2017.


The average GVA per FTE in the UK games sector reached £121,000 in 2019. This is the largest figure for jobs across the screen sector and nearly double that of the UK economy average of £66,100.

Regional Impact

The 2021 Screen Business report highlights the fact that the games industry also has major impact across the whole of the UK.

Growth was spread across the UK on both of the above metrics. While 36% of growth in GVA in the UK games industry came from London, 64% of it occurred in the rest of the UK.

The West Midlands saw the some of the most significant growth, with an 132% increase in total GVA between 2017 and 2019, while Scotland’s total GVA grew an impressive 77% through the same period.

While London remains the largest video game cluster, supporting 21,974 FTEs (11,268 of which were in direct development and publishing roles) and generating £2.06 billion in GVA, the games industry generated over £100 million in GVA and supported over 2000 FTEs in eight different regions across the UK:

  • East Midlands
  • East of England
  • North East
  • North West
  • Scotland
  • South East
  • West Midlands
  • Yorkshire and the Humber

Overall, eight of the twelve national regions saw a total GVA increase of more than 25% over the period covered (East Midlands, East of England, London, North East, North West, Scotland, West Midlands and Yorkshire & the Humber).

Direct developer and publisher employment also increased positively across the country. Five regions (East Midlands, North East, Northern Ireland, Scotland and West Midlands) saw a direct employment increase of over 25%), with Scotland’s direct developer/publisher headcount growing by 60% and the West Midland’s direct employment up by 56%.

Industry Investment

Research from UKIE, cited in the 2021 Screen Business report, highlighted a surge in investment into the UK games industry. £5.1 billion of corporate investments were publicly reported between 2017 and 2020, with £2.79 billion occurring in 2020 alone.

Given the timeframe for the report (2017-2019) it did not cover the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the screen sectors. Ukie’s Playing On report from July 2020 showed that nearly a quarter of games businesses continued to hire at the height of the pandemic, suggesting the potential further growth for the industry outside of the reporting period.

The latest Screen Business report demonstrates the healthy growth of the UK’s video games and interactive entertainment ecosystem, one which is supporting jobs and contributing significantly to the economy right across the country.

Policies such as Video Games Tax Relief have played an immensely important role in supporting our thriving sector, which is an important part of the creative economy. We look forward to working with Government to identify ways to continue to strengthen the ecosystem to create more jobs in this highly innovative and creative sector.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie.

You can read the full report here.

Photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash

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