Scotland’s Successful Gaming Industry: Facing Future Challenges

The gaming industry is one of Scotland’s most successful. To celebrate an event was held during this year’s Scottish Games Week at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday and an industry conference held over the two days of Thursday and Friday in Dundee.

Scotland’s videogame industry is recognised globally for its games successes.

“Scotland has 2,269 permanent and full-time equivalent creative staff working on games development in 147 discrete, verified and active games development companies. This is up from 96 companies employing 1,803 staff in April 2020. The 26 per cent increase in employment in the Scottish games industry compares to a 25 per cent increase for the UK video games sector as a whole” TIGA Survey

Commenting on the results of industry body TIGA’s survey

Dr Richard Wilson OBE, TIGA CEO, said:

“Employment in the Scottish video games industry grew by a colossal 26 per cent between April 2020 and December 2021, while company formation soared by 53 per cent.

“Scotland represents the fourth largest games cluster in the UK. Scotland has a mass of experienced games developers; universities preparing skilled graduates for the games industry, including TIGA Accredited courses at Abertay University and the University of the West of Scotland; and a supportive infrastructure that includes Scottish Enterprise and Creative Scotland. The UK Games Fund is also based in Dundee.

“Growth in the Scottish games industry can be perpetuated by enhancing Video Games Tax Relief to reduce the cost of games development; introducing a Video Games Investment Fund to improve access to finance, and further strengthening industry-university links to enhance skills and innovation.”

Scotland’s gaming industry is a great success but what of its future ?

There is growing concern that several challenges are holding it back. Entrepreneurship and commercialisation are lacking, and smaller businesses that make up most of the industry can find growth difficult.  

There is also a lack of collective representation and strategic focus at a local or national level. 

A cross disciplinary project involving: the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow School of Computing Science and University of Stirling, working with industry partner the Scottish Games Network and InGAME is working to address the issues facing the industry with recommendations on facing these challenges.

Dr Helen Mullen, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School, and Principal Investigator in the project, explained:

“Scotland’s games sector was pioneered by entrepreneurs and has achieved notable success. However, several challenges are now holding it back, particularly the growth and sustainability of the smaller companies who make up most of the sector. 

“Working with the Scottish Games Network, InGAME, and several international games experts, we have identified key challenges and actions. The sector is something of a sleeping giant with substantial potential in a growing, global market.

“We hope that our work will help rouse the sector, improve company successes, and increase overall entrepreneurial activity.” 

The team analysed the sector through the ecosystem framework, which recognises that games companies are affected by a range of different internal and external factors that provide valuable resources, information, or connections and jointly impact the quality and quantity of businesses. 

Dr Michaela Hruskova, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at University of Stirling Management School, and Co-Investigator in the project, said:

“The games sector sits at the intersection of the creative and digital industries which presents it with a set of unique challenges and opportunities. Our project is seeking to explore the factors stifling growth in the sector and identify actions that can be taken to help it realise its full potential. 

“We hope our work will help increase the profile of the gaming industry as one of Scotland’s key sectors – and ultimately help incubate more successful companies, whose games can be enjoyed by players across the world.” 

TIGA is the network for video games developers and digital publishers and the trade association representing the UK video games industry. Its findings published in May 2022 showed that  “Scotland is the fourth largest games cluster in the UK (after London, the South East and the North West). “

  • Scotland has 2,269 permanent and full-time equivalent creative staff working on games development in 147 discrete, verified and active games development companies. This is up from 96 companies employing 1,803 staff in April 2020. The 26 per cent increase in employment in the Scottish games industry compares to a 25 per cent increase for the UK video games sector as a whole;
  • The growth in Scottish games development companies from 96 to 147 represents a 53 per cent increase, compared to a 41 per cent increase for the UK industry in its entirety;
  • Scotland is home to 7.9 per cent of the UK’s total games companies and 10.8 per cent of its developer headcount (the comparable figures as of April 2020 were 7.3 per cent and 10.7 per cent, respectively);
  • Scotland’s games development sector supports an additional 4,148 indirect jobs (up from 3,296 in April 2020);
  • Annually, Scottish games development companies are estimated to invest £141 million in salaries and overheads, contribute £129 million in direct and indirect tax revenues to HM Treasury, and make a direct and indirect contribution of £312 million to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). TIGA survey (December 2021)

Commenting on the results of the TIGA survey Professor Gregor White, Dean of Design and Informatics at Abertay University said:

“This is fantastic news for the Scottish games sector. We’ve been conscious of industry growth in scale and value since 2020 and have seen some significant investment from multinationals with Unity, Rockstar and Epic establishing new offices across Scotland.

“The prosperity of the Scottish sector is fantastic for graduates for Abertay’s world-leading games courses with demand for graduates particularly high and the current environment has seen an increasing number of graduate startup studios in Dundee.  InGAME, the AHRC centre for games research and development, has added a vital piece of innovation infrastructure and its impact is reflected in the accelerated growth of several homegrown studios. I’m looking forward to continued prosperity in the sector as it continues to innovate, diversify and grow.”

You may also be interested in:

Fiona Grahame

Categories: Uncategorized

Tagged as: , , ,