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A Map of the UK Games Industry

We've used a big data approach to measure and map the UK games industry and track its evolution over time.

We've used a big data approach to measure and map the UK games industry and track its evolution over time.

Key findings

  • The games industry is much larger than previously thought: we have found 1,902 games companies active in 2014, which we estimate could be contributing to the UK economy as much as £1.7 billion.
  • The industry is experiencing an entrepreneurial boom, with growth in the number of companies of 22 per cent year on year.
  • iPhones and iPads are the main growth platform for the sector: three quarters of the companies that started operating in the 2010s target Apple’s platforms.
  • We have identified 12 hubs of game-making activity located across the UK. They include Brighton, Cambridge, Cardiff, Guildford and Aldershot, Edinburgh, Dundee, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Rotherham, and Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon.
  • Our approach shows the potential of using new sources of data to track innovative industries such as video games. 

The video games industry is an integral part of the UK creative economy, but hard data about its economic performance and geography are difficult to come by. In this report, done in partnership with Ukie (a trade body supporting the UK’s games and interactive entertainment industry), we adopt an experimental ‘big data’ approach to measure the sector, identifying games companies through their digital footprint in product directories, wikis and games reviews sites instead of using official industrial (SIC) codes or surveys. 

Our analysis reveals a games industry which is larger than previously thought. Also one in the midst of technological and business model disruption driven by the arrival of new gaming platforms like mobile phones and tablets. The games sector is rapidly spreading across the UK, and we identified 12 hubs of game-making activity.

We also match the data we have collected with other open datasets to start exploring what the drivers of games clustering are. This analysis suggests that the games industry benefits from co-location with other creative sectors, and highlights the importance of a strong broadband and talent infrastructure for the development of games hubs.

Going forwards, we will work with Ukie to turn this approach into the foundation for a live, interactive platform allowing games industry stakeholders (including policymakers, educators, investors and games companies) to track the evolution of the sector in real time, and develop smarter strategies to support its future innovation and growth.

Authors

Juan Mateos–Garcia, Hasan Bakhshi and Mark Lenel

 

 

 

Authors

Hasan Bakhshi

Hasan Bakhshi

Hasan Bakhshi

Centre Director, Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC); and Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics, Nesta

Hasan oversees Nesta's creative economy policy, research and practical work.

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Juan Mateos-Garcia

Juan Mateos-Garcia

Juan Mateos-Garcia

Director of Innovation Mapping

Juan leads a team of data scientists, developers, visualisers and innovation experts who use new datasets, analytics methods and visualisation tools to inform innovation policy.

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