Scottish video games industry has ‘ground to a halt’

The Scottish video games development industry ‘ground to halt’ last year, according to TIGA, the trade association; a slow-down caused by the closure of a number of studios. In the same period, the UK games industry grew by 8.1%.

“Growth ground to a halt in 2018, after growing dramatically in the previous year,” said Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA’s chief executive. “The halt in headcount growth is due to the closure of a number of studios and the failure to compensate for this with growth from surviving studios.

“Scotland’s average studio size has historically been larger than that for the UK as a whole which is also partly why the loss of so many studios in a single year has had such a disproportionate impact.

“However, Scotland has a range of experienced studios working in games for mobile, online, educational and console markets and has first class universities educating excellent graduates for the games industry, including TIGA accredited Abertay University.”

Wilson said the sector benefited from the support of agencies, including Scottish Enterprise and Creative Scotland, and the proposed Scottish National Investment Bank could have an impact.

“If the Scottish games industry is to renew growth then we need to ensure that more Scottish games companies benefit from Video Games Tax Relief, a measure which effectively reduces the cost of games development, he added.

“We should reinforce our successful industry by introducing a video games investment fund to improve access to finance. We should also continue to strengthen industry-university links, enhance skills and training and enable UK games companies to recruit highly skilled workers from the EU and beyond. This will ensure that our sector continues to create more jobs, more investment and more video games.”

I’m confident that the industry in Scotland will return to growth very soon.

Professor Gregor White.

Professor Gregor White, Dean of Design and Informatics at Abertay University said: “While it’s disappointing that the games industry in Scotland hasn’t sustained the high levels of growth experienced in recent years there is still much to be positive about.

“[Last year] saw an increase in triple-A [big budget] development and the establishment of new technology spin-offs, including the opening of a new Epic Games studio and Leslie Benzies’ new studio, Build a Rocket Boy, in Edinburgh.

“The industry in Dundee continues to innovate and a new generation of start-ups is emerging. The recent investment by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the city’s games cluster to establish an R&D and innovation centre at the heart of the industry will support InGAME to work with games studios, multinational media companies, and sector partners to catalyse growth in scale and value over the coming months and years.

“Once again, Abertay University is ranked as the leading games school in Europe and continues to attract the best young talent from around the world to study and work in Scotland. I’m confident that the industry in Scotland will benefit from these conditions and return to growth very soon.”

TIGA’s research shows that:

  • Scotland has 1,537 permanent and full-time equivalent creative staff working on games development in 84 companies. This is down marginally from 1,540 staff in 91 companies in 2017, following the closure of several Scottish studios.
  • Scotland is home to 7.9 per cent of the UK’s total games companies and 10.7 per cent of its developer headcount (the comparable figures for 2017 were 8.9 per cent and 11.6 per cent, respectively).
  • Scotland’s games development sector supports an additional 2,810 indirect jobs.
  • Annually, Scottish games development companies are estimated to invest £88m in salaries and overheads, contribute £80m in direct and indirect tax revenues to HM Treasury, and make a direct and indirect contribution of £194m to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).