UK Gaming industry becomes top employer following pandemic
The gaming industry is swiftly becoming one of the UK's biggest employment sectors, with gaming staff contributing an average £80,000 each to the economy - double the national average - new figures suggest.
Gaming has seen significant overall growth in recent years, with the Independent Games Developers' Association (TIGA) revealing that the industry is now generating tax revenues of £907mn annually while gaming has contributed £2.2bn to the UK ‘s GDP in 2020.
Data provider Vancysoft – Gaming: Perfect Play For Growth, teamed up with the global recruiter, Robert Walters to conduct a on employment figures in the gaming industry. Data shows the market expanded in the past five years, and currently employs 47,000 people.
Game sales also jumped by 218% during the four-month lockdown period from March to July, setting a new trend in ‘afterwork’ gaming.
Commenting on the data, , Senior Manager Technology at Robert Walters, said; “With the average contribution per employee of the gaming sector sitting at £80,000 – double the national average and the most productive of all the creative industries in the nation – there is no industry quite like Gaming that is able to evidence its high potential in helping to uphold the UK economy as we navigate out of the pandemic.”
According to the report, the gaming industry is entering a period of maturity. This is reflected by the increased recruitment drives in sales and marketing. In 2019, the sector recruited 25% more staff in these areas compared to 2018. This is in sharp contrast in previous years, where IT has been the largest area of recruitment.
The figures suggest the gaming industry is seeking to further monetise products. IT hires have fallen to 68% of previous levels, while business supporting roles have increased.
, Global Head of Player Support at Wildlife Studios, explained; “The UK and Ireland are uniquely placed in that they have the golden combination of some the best and most advanced tech talent in the world, as well as long-established and best practice methods in product marketing and sales.
Shibley added, “Whilst currently other countries such as China and USA dominate in the Gaming sector, the UK and Ireland have created the ideal breeding ground for new entrants and established games studios to flourish. As the uptake of Gaming becomes increasingly more mass market, the industry will continue to grow at an exponential rate, further driving the hiring agenda.”
UK gaming hubs
The report also revealed that the nation-wide contributions of the gaming sector are considerably more widespread than other creative industries. Just 28% of gaming industry jobs are in London – compared to more than 50% in the film industry, and there are now gaming hubs in more than 20 towns and cities across the UK.
In 2018, 36% of gaming jobs were London-based. But in 2020, that figure has fallen significantly, as 55% of development roles can now be found in hubs outside of London and the South East.
Leading UK gaming hubs outside London, where the industry generates more than £60m in GVA for local economies, are situated in Newcastle, Scotland, Manchester, Slough, Leamington Spa, Crawley and Guildford.
In total, the report pinpointed 23 UK towns and cities that host more than 20 local micro-business game companies. These small operatives represent almost 14% of the industry total – employing 4,000 full-time roles and generating £339mn in GVA.
, Associate Director of Technology (Regions) at Robert Walters, said; "Within the UK, the gaming sector is unlike most in that it is relatively location neutral. With the industry capitalising on regional resources, games companies are experiencing success on a global level.
He added; “Whilst other sectors are just waking up to the exceptional tech infrastructure and talent available in The Midlands and The North – games companies have been strategic in setting up their offices, ensuring that recruitment can happen nationwide and en masse.”
Netflix announces mobile gaming and subscription forecasts
The popular streaming service Netflix has announced it will expand into the gaming industry with the addition of mobile games. It also predicts it will have a stronger second half of 2021 after it noticed subscriber growth had slowed in Q2. The company said that subscription growth for the first quarter reached 1.54mn, which is less than previous periods that were impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. However, Netflix notes that this is an increase on the 1mn net additions which were originally forecasted.
The company also reported that revenue growth for Q2 also didn’t increase as much as expected with only a 19.4% rise to US$7.34bn. Operating profit, on the other hand, climbed to US$1.85bn from US$1.36bn a year earlier, with the margin of 25.2% representing a rise on the company’s 20% original forecast.
More new shows and expanding into gaming
As a way of driving up customer engagement and revenue growth, Netflix plans to expand into the gaming industry and introduce more shows. In the first half of 2021, it spent around US$8bn on content and it expects this to reach US$12bn over the full year, an increase of 12% on 2020.
Looking at its expansion into gaming, Netflix said its initial focus will be on mobile games which will be available “at no extra cost”, although an official announcement of the launch of the new venture is yet to be made.
Netflix is also expanding the markets for its low-cost mobile-only subscription, adding 78 more countries in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The company described its revenue as “roughly neutral”, the lower price being offset by increased volume and better retention.
Subscription numbers to improve for the third quarter
For Q3 of 2021, Netflix is expecting to see the number of people joining the service increase to around 3.5mn, which would be 2mn up on the previous quarter. This is due to new content such as films and TV shows being added, enticing more customers to sign up, Netflix said.
The company ended Q2 with a total of 209.18mn subscribers, up 8.4% on the year before. Around two-thirds of this growth came from Asia, where there is still space to increase this further. However, customer growth in its largest region, the US and Canada, fell by 0.4%.
As production of new content increased, Netflix also saw its free cash flow suffer drop, too, sitting at US$175mn. But, hopefully, its venture into the mobile gaming market will mean subscriptions will rise once again.