TIGA Business Opinion Survey shows that the industry is on course for growth in 2020

According to TIGA’s survey, 75% of respondents plan to grow their organisation’s workforce over the course of 2020.

65% of respondents believe that the economic and business environment in the UK is favourable to the video games industry.

However, a smaller proportion of games businesses plan to increase employment and investment in 2020 and a smaller proportion of respondents believe that their businesses are performing well in comparison to TIGA’s 2019 survey.

TIGA’s Business Opinion Survey 2020 was carried out at the end of 2019. The survey is based upon a representative sample of 57 games businesses including small, medium and large firms, developing games across mobile/tablet, VR, PC and console.

The survey includes the following key findings:

  • employment: 75% of respondents plan to grow their organisation’s workforce over the next year (compared to 77% of respondents a year ago). 21% expect to keep their organisation’s workforce at current levels and 4% per cent think that their organisation’s workforce will diminish;
  • economic environment: 65% of respondents believe that the economic and business environment in the UK is favourable to the video games industry (up from 62% a year ago). 25% consider that the environment is neither favourable nor unfavourable to the sector. 11% feel that it is unfavourable;
  • investment: 29% of respondents to the TIGA survey said that the outlook for investment in their business (for example, in R&D, training, new games development, etc) was more optimistic than compared to 12 months ago (compared to 52% of respondents a year ago). 56% said that the outlook was unchanged. 15% said the outlook for investment was less optimistic;
  • performance: 61% of respondents reported that their company was performing “well” (compared to 77% in 2019). 32% said that their company was performing “neither well nor badly”. Just 7% reported that their company was performing “badly”;
  • prospects: 37% of respondents said that they were more optimistic about their company’s prospects compared to 12 months ago (down from 57% a year ago). 40% reported that they were neither more nor less optimistic, while 21% said that they were less optimistic about their organisation’s prospects. 2% did not know; and
  • obstacles to success: 39% of respondents said that the principal obstacle holding back their businesses was limited access to finance. A further 36% cited discoverability as the biggest obstacle. 20% identified skills shortages and skills gaps. 2% referred to the challenge of standing out in a competitive market, 2% cited a lack of clarity around the UK’s future immigration policy and 2% referred to the slow growth of the virtual reality (VR) market.

Commenting on the survey findings, Dr Richard Wilson OBE, TIGA CEO, said that while the industry is on course for growth, fuelled by Video Games Tax Relief “the 2019 clouds of uncertainty, political paralysis and relative economic slowdown have cast a pall over the industry”, as demonstrated by the finding that a smaller proportion of games businesses plan to increase employment and investment in 2020 in comparison to TIGA’s 2019 survey.

Dr Wilson called on the Government to drive the industry forward by “improving our access to finance and to highly skilled people”. On finance, “the Government should maintain and potentially enhance Video Games Tax Relief. It should also consider introducing TIGA’s proposal for a Games Investment Fund (VGIF). The VGIF would make grants or loans of between £75,000 and £500,000 available to games businesses on a matched funding basis”.

As for skills, Dr Wilson said, the Government can help by “increasing the supply of well-educated graduates who are able to work in the games industry and by enabling our employers to recruit highly skilled people from abroad”. Dr Wilson noted that currently EU workers make up 20% of the UK games industry, while 5% come from countries outside the EU. “The Government should ensure that the UK’s future immigration system enables games businesses to effectively recruit highly skilled people from overseas”, he said.