The Rise of the UK Gaming Industry
The video games industry remains to be one of the biggest in the world. The UK games market alone is worth over £4 billion and generates more than £4.5 million a day for the economy. Constant creative and technological innovation has meant the UK has been able to catch up with its peers such as the US and Japan. The most successful game franchise of all time – Rockstar Games’ GTA – was in fact founded in Dundee, Scotland.
Last year, gaming received a £4 million funding injection from the government to support and encourage the industry’s growth over the next 3 years. The idea behind the fund is to help startups turn ideas into reality. Part of the plan is to provide grants of up to £25,000 to aid new games development – a welcome boost for any UK entrepreneurs thinking about entering the sector. Just under a quarter of all UK games businesses were formed in the past four years, with 95% of them qualifying as small businesses, so it is very much still a developing market.
The Mayor of London and London Enterprise Panel have launched a separate £1.2 million investment, which aims to make the city the games capital of the world. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has stated:
“London is already a star player when it comes to games and interactive entertainment, but international competition is fierce and we need to ensure our city can compete with our global gaming rivals… We are investing in a dynamic and constantly evolving industry to take London to another level as a world-leading capital for games and interactive entertainment.”
As well as financial support, Johnson is backing the 2016 London Games Festival – a two-week festival that will take place in venues around the city. This will be the first UK gaming event to rival the Tokyo Game Show and Germany’s Gamescom.
At present, the UK gaming industry directly employs over 19,000 people and the expansion of virtual reality will strengthen an already robust and growing industry over the next few years. There’s no doubt an increase in computer science in school curriculums has helped to create a good foundation for the industry. However, it is predicted that there will be 750,000 computer science jobs to fill by 2017, and with just 50,000 computer science graduates leaving university in 2014, the skill gap is something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible to keep up with the industry growth.