Scottish video games employment rises 17%

Island Saver from Dundee's Stormcloud Games

Employment in the Scottish video games development industry grew 17% between November 2018 and April 2020, according to new data from TIGA, the network for video games developers.

TIGA said Scotland is the fourth largest games cluster in the UK — after London, the South East of England and the North West of England.

TIGA’s research shows that:

  • Scotland has 1,803 permanent and full-time equivalent creative staff working on games development in 96 companies. This is up from 84 companies employing 1,537 staff in November 2018.
  • Scotland is home to 7.3% of the UK’s total games companies and 10.7% of its developer headcount — comparable figures for 2018 were 7.9% and 10.7% respectively.
  • Scotland’s games development sector supports an additional 3,296 indirect jobs (up from 2,810 in November 2018).
  • Annually, Scottish games development companies are estimated to invest £106 million in salaries and overheads, contribute £97 million in direct and indirect tax revenues to HM Treasury, and make a direct and indirect contribution of £236 million to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

TIGA CEO Richard Wilson said in a statement: “Growth in headcount has been driven in part by inward investment by several major overseas companies, such as Epic and Unity; partly by strong growth in Scotland’s larger studios; and partly by a spate of start-ups.

“Scotland represents the fourth largest games cluster in the UK.

“Scotland has a critical mass of experienced games developers;  renowned universities preparing skilled graduates for the games industry, including TIGA Accredited Abertay University; and supportive agencies including Scottish Enterprise and Creative Scotland.

“The UK Games Fund is also based in Dundee.

“We can ensure that the environment for the Scottish games industry remains favourable for growth in three ways.

“Firstly, by enhancing Video Games Tax Relief, a measure which effectively reduce the cost of games development.

“Secondly, by introducing a Video Games Investment Fund (VGIF) and developing the UK Games Fund  to improve access to finance.

“Thirdly, by continuing to strengthen industry-university links, enhance skils and training and enable UK games companies to recruit highly skilled workers from the EU and beyond.”

Professor Gregor White, Dean of Design and Informatics at Abertay University said: “TIGA’s report showing another period of strong growth in the Scottish sector is welcome news in uncertain times.

“Recent developments in the Scottish sector reflect a period of consolidation, growth in studio size and inward investment by major technology companies.

“All of which is good news for graduates from games courses looking for entry level opportunities and strong career prospects.

“This year has seen Abertay University recognised once again, as Europe’s leading Games School by the Princeton Review and has been recognised as University of the Year for Teaching Quality by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

“Young people and professionals making the decision to study and build careers in the games industry should look to do it here in Scotland.”

Sean Taylor, Director of InGAME: Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise said: “In challenging times, the Scottish sector has demonstrated incredible resilience and ingenuity.

“In Dundee alone this past year, we’ve seen Island Saver from Stormcloud Games reach 1.7 million downloads in just 5 months; Hyper Luminal Games, Outplay Entertainment and Tag Games continue their exciting growth; Ruffian Games partner with Rockstar Games to work on ‘upcoming titles’; Junkfish’s Monstrum 2 win 2020 UK Game of Show; Earthbound Games unlock a further round of funding; Abertay student spin-out, Konglomerate Games, reach the semi-final of the prestigious Startup Summit; Remote Control Productions establish a base in the city; Gamemaker 2 from YoYo Games achieve 10 million downloads; Unity Technologies acquire Chilli Connect; and Northern Lights Arena Europe announce plans for a 4,000 seat esports arena and academy on the city’s Waterfront.

“For all of this to happen during a global pandemic is testament to the talent, drive and world-class potential of the Scottish sector.

“When you add the R&D support, services and international collaboration opportunities offered by InGAME, you have the foundations of sustained, and sustainable, growth.”

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.