TIGA, the trade association which represents the UK games industry, has released a new Business Opinion Survey. The results suggest that the industry is set for a year of strong growth in 2019. Carried out as 2018 was coming to an end, the survey questioned around 60 games businesses across the UK about their plans for the coming year in order to gauge how the industry will fare.
TIGA’s Latest Business Opinion Survey for the UK Games Industry
The Business Opinion Survey 2018-19 focuses on a variety of key areas. The first of these is employment, one of the strongest indicators for 2019 growth. The survey found that 77% of businesses are planning to expand their workforce in 2019; an increase of 9% from 2018. Only 2% of respondents said that their workforce might diminish, while the rest expected neither growth nor shrinkage. This figure likely has a lot to do with another identical figure relating to performance; 77% of businesses also said that their business was performing “Very Well,” or “Well”. Again, this figure has risen from last year, but by 15% in this case. If businesses in the UK games industry are performing well, then it does make sense that they should expect to grow their workforces in 2019.
The survey found that 62% of businesses believe that the UK is a positive place to be for the industry. This figure has actually fallen from 70% in 2018. However, only 5% of businesses felt that it was an unfavourable location. While the other areas of the survey all show improvement from 2018, this is the one area which has fallen, if only slightly. It seems likely that the current situation of Brexit could be a factor here; there is still a great deal of uncertainty over how and when this will take place, and what the impact will be for British businesses. Indeed, the survey’s question on “Obstacles to Success,” saw Brexit listed by businesses as a possible challenge.
The CEO of TIGA on the Potential of 2019 for the UK Games Industry
Dr. Richard Wilson OBE, the CEO of TIGA, pointed to the implementation of Video Games Tax Relief as a factor for improvement; “Video Games Tax Relief,” he explains; “which TIGA was instrumental in achieving, is fuelling growth in the sector. Games Tax Relief effectively reduces the cost and risk of games development and incentivises investment and job creation in the games industry. The government can capitalise on our industry’s strong position by improving our access to finance and to highly skilled people. On finance, the Government should consider introducing TIGA’s proposal for a Games Investment Fund (GIF). The GIF would make grants or loans of between £750,000 and £500,000 available to games businesses on a matched funding basis.”
Wilson did not directly address Brexit in his remarks. However, he did highlight the need for access to skilled international talent. If the government doesn’t make appropriate provisions, there is a risk that Brexit will make it much harder for businesses to recruit non-UK-based staff. Significant drops in international recruitment are already being seen in certain industries, such as healthcare, while the number of international applicants to UK universities are also predicted to fall precipitously. “Our industry needs to have access to highly-skilled employees from the UK, EU, EEA and beyond,” says Dr. Wilson, “Currently, EU workers make up 15 per cent of the UK games industry, while 5 per cent come from countries outside the EU. […] If we are to achieve our potential, then the UK video games industry will need to recruit global talent.”
TIGA Chairman Jason Kingsley’s Comments on 2019 for the UK Games Industry
Jason Kingsley OBE, the Chairman of TIGA and Creative Director of Rebellion, one of the UK’s largest games companies, reiterates that 2019 should be a strong year for the UK games industry; especially if the potential challenges of Brexit are resolved; “2019 shows all the signs of being another great year for our industry,” he says; “We should see more start-ups, expansion and innovation within the sector. We can strengthen our industry still further by improving access to finance and skills and ensuring that the UK has a migration policy post-Brexit that is favourable to growth. TIGA looks forward to continuing its work with the Government in 2019 to ensure our industry achieves its potential.”