Looking deeper at the numbers shows us UK studios aren't making the huge games they used to, however, and are evolving into smaller studios supporting more mobile and tablet development.
According to TIGA, from 2011 to 2012, creative staff across the UK grew from 8,888 to 9,224, which is where the modest four percent increase cited earlier comes from. The number of studios in the UK increased from 329 to 448 – that's 119 new studios and only 336 new jobs. The UK has shifted to smaller studios after years of layoffs and closures.
"Mobile and internet based gaming provide opportunities for growth; we have access to a highly skilled and creative workforce; and TIGA's Games Tax Relief will give a further boost to employment and investment from April 2013," said TIGA Chairman and Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley.
TIGA estimates the sector's contribution to UK gross domestic product increased from £912 million to £947 million in 2012. The UK finally passed tax relief for the ailing sector last year, having proven it passed the cultural test.
TIGA, the trade association representing the games industry, published research today which showed that employment in the UK games development sector grew by 4 per cent in 2012, ending a three year decline in employment. Annual investment by studios rose from £411 million to £427 million between 2011 and 2012. The research is based on an extensive survey of UK games businesses, analysis by Games Investor Consulting, and published by TIGA in the forthcoming report Making Games in the UK Today. A Census of the UK Developer and Digital Publishing Sector (March 2013).
TIGA's research shows that between 2011 and 2012:
· creative staff in studios grew from 8,888 to 9,224;
· jobs indirectly supported by studios rose from 16,250 to 16,864;
· studio numbers rose from 329 to 448;
· direct/indirect tax revenues generated by the sector for the Treasury increased from £376 million to £400 million;
· annual investment by studios rose from £411 million to £427 million; and
· the sector's contribution to UK Gross Domestic Product increased from £912 million to £947 million.
Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, said:
"The UK economy may be on the verge of a triple dip recession but the recovery in the UK games development sector has taken off. Employment, investment and start-ups are up. The games development industry is growing again.
"The sector's return to growth has been driven by three factors. Firstly, the increasing prevalence of mobile and tablet devices have created a growing market for games: studios are setting up to meet this demand. Secondly, the closure of big console based studios has been followed by an explosion of small start-up companies. Thirdly, the advent of Games Tax Relief, which TIGA was instrumental in achieving, is already stimulating growth. Games Tax Relief effectively reduces the cost of games development and it has contributed to inward investment by major international games companies including Activision Blizzard (The Blast Furnace), Gree (Gree UK), Konami (PES Productions) and Microsoft (Lift) in British studios in 2012. Jobs and investment in the games industry are set grow further once Games Tax Relief comes into effect from April 2013.
"However, the UK games industry suffered badly during the last four years without Games Tax Relief: developer headcount and investment levels remain below the 2008 peak. Additionally, start-up studios are vulnerable. At least 21 per cent of start-ups in 2010 – 12 have already gone under. Our challenge now – and TIGA's top priority – is to help build sustainable independent games development and digital publishing businesses. TIGA will do this by delivering services that improve developers' access to finance and which enhance their commercial skills."
Jason Kingsley OBE, TIGA Chairman and CEO and Creative Director at Rebellion, said:
"The UK games development sector is back on track. Mobile and internet based gaming provide opportunities for growth; we have access to a highly skilled and creative workforce; and TIGA's Games Tax Relief will give a further boost to employment and investment from April 2013. The UK has everything to play for."
Notes to editors:
TIGA is the trade association representing the UK's games industry. The majority of our members are either independent games developers or in-house publisher owned developers. We also have games publishers, outsourcing companies, technology businesses and universities amongst our membership. Since 2010, TIGA has won 14 business awards and has been nominated a finalist for 16 other awards.
TIGA's vision is to make the UK the best place in the world to do games business. We focus on three sets of activities: political representation, generating media coverage and developing services that enhance the competitiveness of our members. This means that TIGA members are effectively represented in the corridors of power, their voice is heard in the media and they receive benefits that make a material difference to their businesses, including a reduction in costs and improved commercial opportunities.