What's going on with the UK's games market?

This is one of the most influential sectors around but the future is somewhat uncertain

What's going on with the UK's games market?

The UK is without a shadow of the doubt one of the most important markets in the global video games industry right now.

In part, this is due to its cultural impact. Despite being a rather small island nation, UK video game trade body Ukie reports that there are 2,269 "active" games businesses in operation, with 149 service companies and 100 educational institutes also residing in the UK.

While there's no definitive measure of this, the UK might - square mile for square mile - feature more games talent than any other country on planet Earth.

Hot IP

This is the island that is home to companies and visionaries responsible for the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Candy Crush Saga, Fable, GoldenEye, Total War, Tomb Raider and WipEout, to name just a few.

That doesn't take into account the number of talented work-for-hire studios that have been trusted with triple-A IP like Forza, Crackdown, Devil May Cry and Dead Island.

While much of this is due to the creativity of the British, it's also due to the fact that the UK is simply an attractive place to make video games.

There's a variety of funds available for developers such as Creative England and UK Games Fund, in addition to Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) that was rolled out in 2014.

Successes like Grand Theft Auto have helped wake up the UK government to the benefits of the video games industry. To date over 480 projects have been assisted by VGTR to date. Between July 2017 and 2018, 100 new projects received £131m in assistance. VGTR has been extended to 2023

The UK features a huge audience for video games, too. In 2017 alone - according to data sourced from various outlets by Ukie - the population spend £5.11bn on video games - a sizeable increase on the £4.33bn that was splashed out the year before.

Of that figure, £1.6bn was spent on digital and online titles - an increase of 13.4 per cent. That's more than double the £790m that was spent on physical software, which represents a mere 3.1 per cent rise.

Meanwhile, £1.07bn was spent on mobile titles - an increase of 7.8 per cent year-on-year.

Our sister-site PCGamesInsider.biz has further details.

PocketGamer.biz's two-week UK Special is shining a spotlight on the country's vibrant games industry ahead of Pocket Gamer Connects London on January 21st to 22nd 2019 - the largest B2B mobile games event in Europe.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site PCGamesInsider.biz. In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for GamesIndustry.biz, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.