What the gaming industry brings to the economy…

What the gaming industry brings to the economy…

Often seen by ‘outsiders’ as simply an addictive hobby, perhaps only those working within the gaming industry can fully understand its financial worth. Far from being something only teenage boys bother with, the gaming industry has continued to grow year on year, attracting every generation and gender (hasn’t everybody’s gran had a go on the Wii after too many sherries?!).

In all seriousness, gaming continues to be a lucrative business - and at a time when some other industries are still battling the recession from almost a decade ago.

The US represents one of the biggest gaming markets, and 2015 reports showed that the sector contributed $11bn to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) – the UK industry, in comparison, contributed £1.25bn to our economy (the global market currently represents $108.9bn). Average take-home pay for a game developer in America reaches $97,000; whether that level of remuneration is reflected in a UK developer’s pay packet is something worth discussing in another blog post.

Though here in the UK, we may do things on a smaller scale, there’s no less potential in our gaming industry. A TIGA report shows a 5% rise in the number of studios from 2014, and the number of developers working in the industry has risen by 7.5%. That’s evidence of growth, without doubt; however, according to TIGA CEO, Richard Wilson, the number of large studios has diminished, as micro studios concentrate on “platforms populated by smaller games, specifically mobile”.

The UK gaming industry supports more than 20,000 jobs, yet that’s not enough. One reason more professionals are needed is the sheer number of opportunities: from AR and VR, to mobile gaming and eSports, as well as traditional console games. Mobile, in particular, is cited as the main player by Newzoo, who said it contributes the “lion’s share” to overall revenue. They even predict this discipline will continue to grow, at a rate of 19%, year on year.

Finland is one example of the fallout of such growth, as it recently lamented the difficulties in attracting talented employees, particularly those at senior level. Professionals from other countries currently make up 18% of the Finnish gaming workforce, and that isn’t enough to keep up with demand. And the country is no small fry: Finland, despite its size, is the third largest game developer in Europe. Games represent the country’s largest content export.

It’s not just the games themselves that generate revenue. The mergers and acquisitions element of the industry is absolutely flying, as smaller studios get swallowed up by bigger ones, who themselves merge with a competitor to make brand giants – through various levies and taxes, the economy doesn’t miss out from all this action.

It’s not growth across the board, though. Console sales are reportedly down by 27%, compared with the previous year, but this is offset by the staggering 40% growth in mobile. Sales of gaming accessories are on the rise, but software sales have dipped. VR, as a discipline, is another that’s flying, and experts predict results will exceed expectations, even if they admit the growth VR should see will be slow-burning.

For job-seekers, the future looks bright. At the beginning of the year, TIGA surveyed a number of game companies, and a promising 88% said they will be hiring at some point in the near future, in line with expansion plans they’ve drawn up on the back of their consistent growth.

The outlook for the gaming industry is a promising one, with the added benefit that some elements of the market have still to find their feet. Even where sales in certain disciplines have dropped, these changes have simply arisen from changing consumer tastes - it’s not as if gamers have taken up knitting, they’ve just found a different way to play. The most important thing is, they’re still spending…

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