Market trends

The UK has been widely identified as the leading industry for games development in Europe. The Games Developer Conference (GDC), polled 400-plus games professionals across europe and found that the UK emeged top for tax incentives and also as the best source of games both 10 years ago and as the likely source of the best games in five year from now.


Best tax incentives for games 

 Best EU market for games development

Source: GDC 2014, State of the Industry report.


Key Games statistics


In the official statistics, games companies are included in the data for IT software and computer services.  According to this broader classification, there was an average number of 16,000 IT software and computer service jobs in the UK creative economy in the period 2011 to 2013. According to official data, the number of jobs in the UK computer games industry rose by 18.8% in 2012. (Source: DCMS Estimates). 

• However, a study by Nesta and Ukie which used a big data approach argued that the games sector was bigger than previously imagined. 

• In 2013 Grand Theft Auto V, produced by Scotland’s Rockstar North, achieved the fastest $1bn sales gross of any product in entertainment history. (Source: Guinness World Records).

• 95% of UK games companies sell products outside the UK (Source: TIGA)

• The UK was named by the 2014 GDC Europe State of the Industry report as the souce of the best tax incentives in europe as well as the creator of the best games both 10 years ago and in the near future (Source: GDC Europe 2014)

• Events such as Insomnia, a Coventry-based conference in which 30,000 gamers gathered to watch players compete in videogaming tournaments, have higlighted the growth of e-sports. More than 70m worldwide watched or participated in esports in 2013 - 16.3m of them were in Europe, and it is only set to grow as platforms like Twitch continue to bring the sport to new audiences. (Source: Ukie)

• The games sector creates more than £10m a week of Gross Value Added for the UK economy. (Source:DCMS Estimates).

• The UK is the largest games development market in europe and home to 23 of the world’s top 100 games development studios. (Source: Develop 100).

• Twice as many Britons would miss playing video games as watching DVDs. (Source: The Communications Market 2013, Ofcom).


Audience profile


7 in 10 Britons have played some form of video game in last 6 months; more people 45+ are playing than kids/teens.
Apps are the most popular format; smartphones most popular device; consoles account for most time. Trivia/word/puzzles are the favourite genre – driven by older women.

Driven by 25-44 year old women downloading free puzzle and trivia game apps, there are now more women playing video games than men, according to a new report from the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) on the British game-playing audience.

The “Gaming Revolution” study, carried out by independent research agency Populus, reveals that females account for over half (52%) of people who’ve played some form of video game¹ in the last six months, compared to 49% three years ago. The gamer audience has now hit 33.5 million Britons – 69% of the population.

The study also reveals there are now more people over 44 years old playing games (27% of gamer population) than children and teenagers (22%). Over half (56%) of people aged 45-54 have played a video game in the last six months, as have 44% of 55-64 year olds and even a third (32%) of 65-74s.

The growth in women and older gamers has been driven by free games, primarily mobile apps. Six in ten (61%) games acquired in the last six months were free. Apps are now the most popular video game format (played by 55% of the online population) followed by online games (48%) then disc-based games (40%). Over one in four (27%) people played all three formats – rising to 70% of 8-12 year olds.

The average gamer aged 16+ spends around 11 hours gaming a week, compared to 20 hours for 8-15 year olds. 6-8pm is the most popular game-playing time.

The average Briton spends six hours per week playing games, just over 11% of their 52 hours of media consumption a week – the same share accounted for by social media and slightly less than listening to music (14%).

Read more on this survey here.




The UK is a unique market for the games industry. Straddling both the USA and the wider European markets, it also provides fast-track access to the Middle East and India and has become the top inward-investment destination for companies outside of Europe. For early stage and new technology and content players, the UK is an essential first market due to its early-adopter environment, meaning companies can test their new applications in a well developed and high-spending economy.

Mirroring global trends, the core drivers of the UK digital games market are:

■ Multiplicity of cheaper, more intelligent smartphones entering the market

■ Continued growth of social networks

■ Increased access to high-speed internet

■ Growth of the tablet PC market

■ Increase in the amount of leisure time enjoyed by consumers

Smartphones: The UK has over 30m smartphones, most of them high-end (e.g. iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows). The UK app market is by far the biggest in Europe.

Social networks: Social networks, particularly Facebook, are very popular in the UK and are key to the development of mobile content as a platform for games. Consumers in the UK spend almost 50 per cent of their time on the mobile internet on Facebook, with over 30m unique users.

MMO, Casual and PC download: These markets are also growing in the UK, underpinned by changing consumer attitudes to games and improved infrastructure to support the fluctuations in games traffic across the networks.

Ongoing investment: The public and private investment in the mobile and fixed internet, alongside the success of the cloud computing and data centre sectors, have made the UK the best place in Europe to grow a consumer base. 4G is being rolled out nationwide in 2013, supplemented by the UK’s network of WiFi hotspots, the largest in Europe.

Cloud computing and data centres: The UK is one of the strongest markets in the world for cloud computing and data centre companies. The UK cloud computing market is forecast to more than double by 2014 from £2.4bn to £6.1bn, while the UK data centre market is currently worth US$3.35bn, second only to West Coast, USA.

Marketing excellence: A key challenge for digital games businesses is the ability to effectively market their products. Games companies in the UK are increasingly expanding or opening offices in London to be close to the myriad marketing, search and advertising industry players that can help their games rise above the pack.

World-class developers: To succeed in the digital games market, companies are realising they need more than just a developer who can build a good game. They also require experienced content developers, with tested design and interaction skills, as well as strong partnerships across traditional and new media sectors. The UK, home to all the world’s largest media platform and content businesses, is uniquely positioned to take the lead in this area.