New era dawns as UK devs go digital

New era dawns as UK devs go digital
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

November 22nd 2010 at 3:00PM

Tiga census shows 80% have turned away from making boxed products

Over 80 per cent of new studios in the UK focus their efforts on developing digital distribution games rather than retail product.

That's according to the findings from the latest Tiga census, the results of which were released today at a special event at the House of Commons. The survey of all 278 UK studios also highlighted the fact that since the last census in July 2008, while 131 video game companies closed, 145 opened their doors – 84 per cent of the new firms were developers.

As previously revealed by Develop, the census, conducted by Games Investor Consulting, also revealed that between July 2008 and September 2010 the UK’s studio headcount fell by 9 per cent.

“Over the last two years 145 new companies entered the market, 80 per cent of which focus on digital distribution gaming," confirmed Tiga CEO Richard Wilson.

"This illustrates the highly competitive and entrepreneurial spirit of the UK games sector, as well as its agility and ability to adapt to new market conditions.

“In recent years, a range of new platforms and business models have given games companies more flexibility. Driven firstly by the rapid growth of the iPhone games market and then more recently and most significantly by Facebook and the social network games market.

"Games studios in this space often have a higher potential to be stable and profitable, better able to raise finance, create original new games, retain copyright and attain greater financial stability. Network gaming grew in 2009 to represent 38 per cent of the global video games market. Today, the largest games audiences and fastest growing games companies the industry has ever seen are in network gaming, particularly on Facebook.”

Other findings from the census:

• 'At the time of the census on October 10th there were 9,010 people employed in games development in the UK. This figure is down from 9,900 in 2008.'

• 'Although jobs have been lost and companies closed across the global development industry, the UK has been hit particularly hard compared to territories benefiting from tax breaks for games production, for example Canada’s development headcount has grown by at least 33 per cent over the same period. A brain drain to subsidised studios overseas is depleting British studios of skilled and experienced staff. A Tiga survey in 2009 found that 23 per cent of UK game development studios had lost staff to foreign countries in the preceding 12 months and of these 72 per cent said that their staff went to Canada.'