Train2Game News UK games market reaches new heights in 2016

At its annual Games Industry Market Valuation Breakfast event yesterday, games trade body Ukie revealed the value of UK consumer games market reached a record £4.33bn in 2016, up +1.2% from 2015 figures.The result shows positive growth for the games and interactive entertainment economy, including an +11.1% increase in digital console and PC games sales and an impressive +16.9% rise in UK mobile games revenue – now worth £995m. Overall, software sales in the UK exceeded £3bn for the first time.

The consumer release of the first VR headsets has helped fuel the growth of the sector though the sales of VR hardware, included in the market valuation for the first time and valued at £61.3m. The impact of VR was also seen in the sale of top-end graphics cards, driving a huge increase in PC game hardware of +64% to £258m.  

As the current generation of the console cycle matures, there was an expected reduction in sales of new hardware, down to £507.5m.

UK games events have also seen a strong increase, up +20.6% from 2015, fuelled by a growing esports scene in the UK and consumers engaging more with the industry at UK-wide games shows such as popular Insomnia and upcoming EGX Rezzed.

The successes of both Pokémon GO and Minecraft were factors in increases for both categories for game-related toys and merchandise, and books and magazines. Toys and merchandise sales increased by +7.2% to £66.8m, with books and magazines increasing +13% to £18.4m.

The annual breakfast briefing was attended by industry, media and analysts, and featured lively panel discussions from industry leaders about the state of the UK industry and expected trends in the coming year.

Data was collated to build the total Market Valuation using trusted industry data sources including Superdata, GfK, Kantar Worldpanel, Neilsen, NPD, ABC, The Official Charts Company and Ukie.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said, “Our sector is constantly innovating and investing in new experiences, technologies and talent, resulting in the strong and resilient games industry shown in this £4.33bn market valuation. It has been an excellent year for the industry, including the release of first commercially available VR headsets, an exciting year for our national esports scene, and the explosion of the UK mobile market, which is now worth nearly £1bn alone.

These statistics will go a long way to reinforcing the message that the UK continues to be a world leading games market, remaining strong in the face of an uncertain political climate. Ukie will continue to use these stats to promote the strength of our sector nationally and worldwide to investors, the media, policy makers and more, to prove that the UK is the best place to make and sell games.

The next year will be a big year of change, but we look forward to seeing the market remain resilient and robust and a leading creative economy in the UK.”

Read the full market breakdown here.

Train2Game News UKIE on eSports

The trade body for games and interactive entertainment consulted with members of the UK esports community and today released the results in a whitepaper outlining eight recommendations for how the UK can become a global leader in esports.
The esports sector is set to be worth $1bn globally by 2019, and the UK’s ecosystem is young but growing. Highlighting the sector’s prospects in job creation, local economic growth, tourism, and new skills development, the report also indicates how the sector can be used as an example of the UK’s best technology, innovation and creativity.

As a trade body for interactive entertainment, Ukie now represents major UK stakeholders, including publishers, developers, platform holders, and key players in the esports ecosystem such as Hi-Rez, makers of Smite, ESL, Gfinity, FaceIT, Team Dignitas, Fnatic and Game/Multiplay amongst others.  They worked in consultation with Ukie via its largest member Sub Group to outline the measures.

The recommendations centre around:

    -The sector to work with key government departments to develop a unified strategic approach and appealing trade and investment offer to major international tournament holders, IP owners and brands;

    -The delivery of superfast broadband and 5G to provide the best infrastructure across the country;

    -The sector should coordinate itself as an industry group to share information and encourage and facilitate the sharing of best practice;

    -Industry and government to develop a methodology for more accurately measuring the UK esports sector;

    -Government to consider the needs of esports businesses and players in policy debates around skills and immigration and

    -The UK’s already world-leading games industry education courses to include esports modules;

    -Esports companies to actively support sustainable initiatives that promote and inspire diverse participation of esports;

    -Fifteen UK esports ambassadors to be created to promote esports in the UK and internationally, picked from a diverse mix of players, developers, publishers and event organisers, and to be added to the UK’s existing Video Games Ambassadors scheme.

Ukie also announced it would be supporting the Digital Schoolhouse powered by PlayStation to hold its first schools esports tournament in 2017.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said, “For some time, we have been proposing that esports in the UK could be a high value opportunity for the economy, provided the right infrastructure and support is in place so we can compete at a global level. Ukie stands for interactive entertainment, and esports is born out of the meeting of games, competition, fandom, live events, and digital innovation, and so in many ways is the epitome of interactive entertainment. Combining industry commitment with political and practical support both nationally and locally, collectively promoting the sector, and supporting the grassroots esports movement across the country, we can make the UK the leading global destination for esports.”

The whitepaper was launched at an event at Gfinity Arena, London’s home of esports, on Monday 28 November.

You can read the full report digitally here.

Train2Game News UKIE Board Election Results

Ukie formally announced the results of its 2016-17 Board election at the trade body’s AGM at EGX.
Veronique Lallier, VP European Publishing at High-Rez Studios, makers of eSports title Smite, joins the Board this year, along with six re-elected Directors.

Andy Payne, CEO of AppyNation, Rocket Lolly’s Ella Romanos, Ian Livingstone, Chair of Playmob, Sports Interactive’s Miles Jacobson and Curve Digital’s Stuart Dinsey will serve another two-year term and Noirin Carmody, Co-Founder and COO of Revolution Software, resumes her role as Chair of the Board for a second year.

It was also announced that Dave Gould, Senior Director of Sales UK & Export, Take Two Interactive, will take the Board Treasurer role.

Forty-two per cent of Ukie’s eligible voting membership voted in the election, which means the Board consists of 21 leading members of the games industry tasked with shaping Ukie’s strategy over the next two years. You can see the full list of the Ukie Board here.

Ukie also used the AGM to call for games companies to support the innovative Digital Schoolhouse programme, which launched nationwide last week, thanks to a new partnership with PlayStation.

The inspiring STEAM-driven computing education initiative is now active in 19 schools across the country, following a hugely successful pilot year in London. The first academic year of the national roll-out is expected to reach 15,000 school children with its unique play-based learning model that inspires children at a young age, especially girls, and equips teachers with creative computing resources and ways of teaching.

Warwick Light, MD & VP, UK & Ireland of lead Digital Schoolhouse partner, SIEE, called for more games companies across the UK to adopt their local schools to become Digital Schoolhouses, to strengthen bonds between industry and education and to help create new engaging ways to inspire children to learn digital skills.

If you are interested in hearing more about The Digital Schoolhouse, powered by PlayStation, or are interested in sponsoring your local secondary school, speak to programme director, Shahneila.

The AGM also saw the launch of The UK Games Map, a new interactive map platform created in partnership between Ukie and Nesta, the innovation foundation. The UK Games Map is the first complete dataset of the UK games industry, designed to chart the size, scale and geography of the sector using an automated Big Data approach.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said, “This has been a big year for Ukie, for the industry, and for the UK and we are proud to launch two key initiatives at our AGM – the UK Games Map and the call for games businesses to sponsor their local Digital Schoolhouse. These initiatives would not happen without the support of the Ukie Board who have the sector’s best interest at heart, and to the Ukie team, as well as our extensive network of members. I’m delighted to welcome back re-elected Board members and also welcome Veronique. I look forward to working with the Board and team to navigate big changes in the political landscape in the coming year, and making sure that the UK remains the best place to be making games.”

Noirin Carmody, Chair of Ukie, Co-Founder and COO of Revolution Software, said: “I’m pleased to welcome back familiar faces to the Board, and also to welcome Veronique to her new role. The announcement of the UK Games Map and the Digital Schoolhouse, powered by PlayStation, today, exemplify the hard work of the Ukie team and Board over the previous 12 months, and I am proud to be launching these in my first AGM as Chair. I am looking forward to another productive and successful year working with the new team.”

Train2game News UKIE on the 2016 Budget

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Chancellor George Osborne announced the 2016 Budget yesterday, setting out the government’s tax and spending plans for the next year and beyond.

95% of games companies are micro, small or medium sized enterprises, and 64% of firms were incorporated in the last 5 years. The Budget introduces a number of measures which will have a positive impact on small and micro games firms. Chief among these are cuts to business rates and stamp duty for lower-value properties, as well as some targeted support for the digital economy.

Responding to the announcements, Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist said:

“It’s good news for small studios.  The overwhelming majority of games firms are small or micro studios, most of which have emerged in the last five years.  Cuts to business rates and stamp duty will reduce the tax burden for these firms and boost growth and so will be welcomed by the UK games industry.

Looking to the future we will continue to call for public support for innovative games content through National Lottery funds, just like Film and TV have at the moment.  We also want to see long-term investment in talent and await further details in the Education White Paper tomorrow.”

More detail will follow once the Treasury and other Departments follow up on the speech.

Taxation
·         Cuts to business rates totalling £6.7 billion over five years, targeted at small businesses. 600,000 small businesses, including games companies, will pay no business rates at all.
·         Stamp Duty on commercial properties will be changed to a marginal system, reducing the large jumps in taxation between different property values, and rates will be cut for lower-value properties. As a result, 90% of non-residential properties will be taxed less or the same.
·         A new Museums and Galleries Tax Relief from April 2017, supporting the development and touring of new creative exhibitions
·         Corporation tax will be cut further to 17% in 2020
·         Capital gains tax will be cut from 28% to 20%, and from 18% to 10% for basic-rate payers
·         Self-employed people will see class 2 National Insurance Contributions abolished from April 2018, representing an average tax cut of £134 each.
·         A new sharing economy tax allowance of £1,000 each for property and trading income – removing taxes from income made through online platforms such as AirBnB.
·         Tax-free personal allowance and higher-rate threshold both to be raised. The personal allowance will go up to £11,500 in 2017-18. Higher-rate income tax will be incurred from £45,000, rather than £42,500.

Apprenticeships
·         Some new detail on the Apprenticeship Levy: from April 2017, employers will receive a 10% top-up to their monthly levy contributions in England and this will be available for them to spend on apprenticeship training through their digital account. The government will set out further details on the operating model in April and draft funding rates will be published in June.

Digital Economy
·         A new Broadband Investment Fund, in partnership with private sector investors, to support the growth of alternative broadband networks by providing greater access to finance
·         A 5G strategy in 2017, based on an assessment by the National Infrastructure Commission of how the UK can become a world leader in 5G
·         Establish a panel of leading experts, chaired by Kathryn Parsons, to shape the £20 million Institute for Coding competition

Measuring the Industry
The government has accepted all the recommendations from the Bean Review of Economic Statistics, including:
·         Invest over £10 million in a new ONS hub for data science: “The centre for excellence will improve the Office for National Statistics’ capability to measure the changes in the UK’s digital economy and to push the frontiers of economic measurement.”

Ukie will continue to make the case to the government, setting out how the UK can be the best place in the world to make and sell games, as demonstrated in our Blueprint for Growth report.

Train2game News UK Games Industry at GDC

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Biggest ever UK Industry contingent flies out to leading games developer conference

·         Ukie hosts the largest ever UK industry stand at GDC, with 40 UK games businesses exhibiting on their managed stand
·         2016 will see a new UK Growth and International Trade seminar, chaired by Ukie CEO
·         UK Industry Drinks reception returns, sponsored by Games London, UKTI, Wells Fargo and BAFTA

The world’s leading games developer conference, GDC, is set to feature the largest ever UK industry stand this year, managed and organised by games trade body, Ukie. Exhibiting businesses will demo new game releases and products on the official UK stand, as well as hosting meetings with international business partners.

The UK industry stand will host over 40 of the top UK games companies, including delegations from Wales, Northern Ireland and the Northern Powerhouse.

On Wednesday 16 March, Ukie CEO, Dr Jo Twist, will also be chairing a seminar at the British Consulate in San Francisco. The seminar, ‘UK Growth and International Trade’, will cover opportunities for international trade from the innovative games sector. The seminar will also include case studies of the financial incentives of developing games in the UK, such as the highly successful Video Games Tax Relief, which supported the development of 237 games in 2015. Companies speaking include transatlantic business experts Fitzgerald & Law and EKS&H, as well as a panel discussion with Edge Case Games and Silicon Valley Venture Capital.

Ukie will also host the annual UK Industry Drinks Reception on Wednesday 16 March, an evening of international networking, in partnership with Games London, Wells Fargo, BAFTA and UKTI.

Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, said, “It’s important that we continue to inform the global marketplace why the UK is such an attractive and important location for games businesses. GDC gives the UK industry a vital platform on which to showcase world-leading content and services to a global audience, attracting important investment and generating business with the brand new London Games Festival launching in April this year, part of Games London, we hope to see even more international attention to the sector in the UK.”

For more information on Games London visit www.games.london

Train2Game News UKIE and MCV market research

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Games trade body Ukie and leading games trade magazine MCV held their annual Market Valuation Breakfast today, where it was revealed that the value of the UK games market is up 5% from 2014, and now worth £4.19bn. Overall, the figures show positive growth across most of the categories of the UK games consumer market.

The biggest increase is seen in the mobile games market, worth £664m, an impressive £116m increase from 2014. Console hardware suffered a decrease in valuation, in 2015 being worth £689m, down from £915m in 2014.

For this year’s market valuation, Ukie and MCV added in a new category; specialist gaming PC hardware, which is worth £138m.

The market valuation has been calculated with input from leading data companies, GfK, IHS Technology, Neilson BookData, Official Charts company, NPD and Kantar. Representatives from some of these data companies spoke at a special launch breakfast held at Ukie this morning, where the figures were revealed for the first time.

Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, said, “This data shows the increasing strength of the games market and confident consumer growth in our industry. We’re pleased to see the market soar to nearly £4.2bn for the first time, which is a result of the constant creative and technological innovation in the UK industry, which makes our consumer market extremely strong. These statistics are hugely valuable to Ukie in our mission to promote the strength of our sector nationally – to investors, the media and policy makers – as well as internationally, where we aim to show that the UK is the best place in the world to make and sell games.”

Editor of MCV, Chris Dring, added, “Almost £4.2bn is an incredible result. And the figures show that there is opportunity across the industry, from games to accessories, past toys, books and events. Almost £1.9bn of the figures come from the booming digital sectors, which has become a major force for growth in games. But physical items still accounted for more than £2.3bn, so the results are positive for the entire business.

“Now we shall see what 2016 has in store with the arrival of new blockbuster games such as Uncharted 4, The Legend of Zelda and Gears of War, a rising tide of excellent looking independently-created titles, plus virtual reality and Nintendo’s secretive new console, the NX.”

Train2Game News Ukie Careers Bar Returning

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Ukie Careers Bar returns as part of the GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair at EGX Rezzed in April 2016

Ukie and GamesIndustry.biz, the world’s leading games trade website, are teaming up once again to bring the Ukie Careers Bar to the GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair. The long-running partnership will return to EGX Rezzed on 7-9 April 2016 at London’s Tobacco Dock to provide the future generations of games industry talent a valuable insight into how to break into this competitive industry.

Ukie’s popular Careers Bar will feature talks from some of the biggest names in the games industry from their Video Games Ambassador Scheme. The talks will provide expert insight from all areas of the games industry, from games art, programming and design, to publishing careers in PR, marketing and community management. The speaker schedule for the Careers Bar will be announced soon here.

Ukie’s expert Video Games Ambassadors will also be present throughout the Career Fair to provide one-to-one career and portfolio advice on a casual drop-in basis.

The GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair is the unique careers and education area at EGX Rezzed. Featuring a range of careers and education exhibitors, accessible advice from developers and educators, and unique networking opportunities, the Career Fair gives everyone a chance to get closer to the games industry.

EGX Rezzed, and the GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair and Ukie Careers Bar within it, feature as part of the London Games Festiva l, a new international celebration of UK games between 1-10 April 2016.

CEO of Ukie, Dr Jo Twist, said: “The Ukie Careers Bar is the best way for the next generation of games talent to explore what options they have to break into this competitive industry. The unique chance to gain personalised one-to-one career guidance from the biggest names already working in the games industry is an opportunity that we’re really proud to be able offer people who want to enter the industry. The games industry in the UK is a hotbed of creative and technical talent and we’re looking forward to meeting some more of this untapped, diverse talent and finding them their place in this great sector.”

European Editor of GamesIndustry.biz, Dan Pearson, said: “GamesIndustry.biz has really valued the contribution Ukie has made over the last 3 years by running their popular Careers Bar at our GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair. The Careers Bar has proved itself to be a core feature of the Career Fair, and it is great to see it back for another show. Also, the fact EGX Rezzed is set to play a role in the wider London Games Festival this year is a tribute to our longstanding focus on supporting careers and education within the games industry.”

Tickets for EGX Rezzed are available now.

Train2Game News First Year Games Tax Relief

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237 games approved for Video Games Tax Relief in 2015, BFI stats show

Stats released today by the BFI show that 237 games were approved for Video Games Tax Relief in 2015 with a total EEA/UK spend of £728.9m. 2015 is the first full year since their launch in April 2014.

A breakdown of these figures in Interim and Final certification is as follows:

Final – 116 games, EEA/UK spend £180.9m, Total budget £265.6m, EEA/UK is 68.1% of total budget

Interim – 121 games, EEA/UK spend £548m, Total budget £603.6m, EEA/UK is 90.8% of total budget

Ukie CEO, Dr Jo Twist responded to the stats, saying: “These figures show that the Video Games Tax relief is working to encourage strong growth in our sector. The high interim figures also indicate that this is only expected to show more growth in the coming months and years, with more culturally British games being created in the UK with a wider range of budgets.”

“Now that we have a clearer picture of the impact, with the full first year’s figures, Ukie would like further detail to be provided, starting with a regional breakdown of the numbers to show how VGTR is helping across the country. We are now undeniably in a stronger place thanks to VGTR. We have a level playing field with the rest of the world, and now we need to capitalise on that opportunity. Initiatives such as the Mayor-funded Games London plan and the London Games Festival, which will showcase why the UK is games capital of the world, are showing what we can achieve with the right support in place .”

The full report can be found here http://www.bfi.org.uk/sites/bfi.org.uk/files/downloads/bfi-british-film-other-screen-sector-certification-2015-2016-03-02.pdf with the stats for games on p.15.

Train2Game News UKIE teaming with Player Research

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UK games trade body agrees deal with leading user research company to provide new player experience reports

Industry-leading playtesting and user research specialists Player Research are introducing a series of new reports focussing on usability and player experience. Ukie have been appointed exclusive seller and distributor of these reports.

The reports, collated by Player Research using their expert knowledge and practical experience from watching and analysing real players, gives unrivalled insight and guidance to games companies to help understand how games are actually being played.

Dr Graham McAllister, Director of Player Research, said, “Competing with, and surpassing, the most successful games in the world to deliver an engaging and accessible player experience is difficult, but can be achieved. Our first report on the base builder genre will help studios assess how the UX of their game compares to the industry leaders, and detail how to deliver a best-in-class experience”.

The reports are both extensive and highly detailed and yet also published in an easily digestible way for games designers, programmers, producers, UI artists and the game development community at large.

The first report is for Base Builder games, focusing on four leading games in the genre; Clash of Clans, Star Wars Commander, Boom Beach, and Game of War: Fire Age.

The report is a result of hundreds of man-hours of expert analysis covering all aspects of game design, including user experience, usability, and social features and will be vital for any company working in this genre or considering entering it.

Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, said, “Understanding a player’s experiences and motivations is vital for any games business. If you truly understand your consumer you can grow your own games community and support your business growth. We’re proud to be able to deliver such high quality and robust reports from such a well-respected research company.”

Train2Game News Games London

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London’s games and interactive entertainment industry is set for a £1.2m boost with the launch of Games London, a ground breaking new programme to make the city the games capital of the world, tapping into a market that globally is worth around $81bn.
 
Funded by the London Enterprise Panel (LEP), Games London is being delivered by Film London, the capital’s strategic agency for film and media, and games trade body Ukie and will build on recent growth in the games sector, which generated £2.8bn in revenue in 2015.
 
The three year programme will capitalise on the Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR), which was introduced in 2014. It will attract investment to the UK and help businesses based in the capital generate £35million in new revenue, adding nearly £10million, as well as creating hundreds of jobs and boosting skills and training.
 
The plan was announced today via an in-game press conference featuring Mayor of London Boris Johnson in one of the biggest video games in the world: Minecraft.
 
Mayor of London and Chair of the LEP Boris Johnson said ‘London is already a star player when it comes to games and interactive entertainment, but international competition is fierce and we need to ensure our city can compete with our global gaming rivals. Through Games London we are supercharging an increasingly important sector for our economy, one that exemplifies the capital’s reputation for creativity and innovation. From design to banking and civil engineering to film, games technology is being used in a host of different sectors. We are investing in a dynamic and constantly evolving industry to take London to another level as a world-leading capital for games and interactive entertainment.’
 
The Games London programme will deliver:
 
·         A new annual London Games Festival – with the first taking place in April 2016 – to showcase and celebrate the industry’s huge cultural and economic impact

·         A new international business-to-business networking event to attract top investment to the UK

·         Inbound and outbound trade missions to promote the tax relief and the sector overseas, in conjunction with London’s official promotional company London & Partners

·         A range of training and skills initiatives
 

The 2016 London Games Festival takes place 1 April to 10 April, and will include 15 official events across 10 different venues in the capital. Highlights include:

·         Now Play This (1 April – 3 April), a weekend festival of games and play at Somerset House, as part of Utopia 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility

·         The brand-new Games Finance Market (5 April – 7 April), a first of its kind event that recreates the successful formula delivered by Film London in matching film finance to film projects during the London Film Festival. The Games Finance Market will connect interactive content talent with global investors and partners from across sectors

·         A series of insightful ‘LGF @ BFI’ talks (4 April) programmed and presented by London Games Festival in partnership with BFI Southbank

·         The inclusion of already influential global events: British Academy Games Awards (7 April) and EGX Rezzed (7 April – 9 April)

·         An inspiring cultural programme that helps change perceptions of video games and champions the medium as a cutting-edge art form – plus a London Games Fringe of alternative and exciting smaller events

Games London is being led by Michael French who was appointed in September 2015. French has been working in the games sector for 13 years as a journalist and publisher, building brands and events that support and grow the games industry. Partners include BAFTA, London & Partners, Gamer Events, Somerset House and the BFI.

More details about Games Festival will be announced soon. Further information can be found at www.games.london