The UK has a long history of being a major player in the global gaming industry and has developed a reputation for producing high-quality games and innovative technologies. The UK has a high level of consumer spending on games and gaming-related products, making it a lucrative market for game developers and service providers.
The UK game development industry emerged in the 1980s, with the rise of home computer gaming; UK studios like Ultimate Play the Game and Imagine Software became major players in the industry. The UK gaming industry began to grow rapidly in 1985 when Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console, focusing on high-quality games. At that time, Nintendo cooperated with the UK developer Rare that was developing games for Nintendo’s consoles. The UK gaming market gave the world many other famous games like Championship Manager, Grand Theft Auto, and Tomb Raider.
Today, the UK game development industry is a major contributor to the global gaming market, with studios like Rockstar North, Frontier Developments, and Creative Assembly continuing to produce successful games.
Andrew Findlay | Environment Artist, Rebellion Games
The leap in the UK gaming industry occurred because people had a true passion for developing games and weren't afraid to create something new — their main goal was to develop games that would entertain players.
Now, the UK is one of the leading gaming sectors in Europe. The revenue in the industry grows every year:
London and its surrounding area is the hub of national game development: 45% of the UK game studios are located there. However, there are game companies all over the country (the total number of them is 2,202). Horsforth, Liverpool, Manchester, and Edinburgh are really popular cities for work among game developers.
A map of the most popular UK game studios is presented below:
Thanks to the presence of game companies throughout the country, a big gamedev community has formed here. It includes groups such as South Wales Community, London Community (London, Brighton and the South), the Midlands Community, North West Community (Liverpool, Manchester and North Wales), Scotland Community, Yorkshire Community and Northern Ireland Community. Many times a year, these strong communities of developers come together at events and meetups.
The UK gaming industry is a prominent sector that has a big community and a large number of famous companies throughout the country.
Over the past few years, the gaming industry has been influenced by the following factors:
- Brexit. After the UK left the European Union, it became difficult to hire foreign employees. Interviewees noted that they faced bureaucracy when processing documents for workers from other countries.
- Inflation. This factor led to higher prices in the country, so many studios switched to remote work.
- COVID-19. During the pandemic, many employees also began to work remotely or in a hybrid mode.
Apart from remote work, outsourcing is another trend in the UK. Local studios have started to turn more to third-party services and solutions for their projects. According to GamesIndustry.biz, approximately 67% of UK game studios outsource to external providers. It is estimated that the outsourcing market volume for UK game development is worth between £800 million and £1 billion.
To facilitate the flow of approaching the local market, 80 Level Research Team collected 8 tips for successful business communication in the UK.
- The local gamedev community enjoys face-to-face meetings. Developers get to know each other at conferences or invite partners who send a request on their website to a personal meeting.
- Informal meetings are appropriate at any time. Invite partners to events and meetups for the first meeting. Сafes, coffee shops, or pubs are also good places to build a relationship with a person.
- Sports are a great icebreaker. The UK people enjoy football, rugby, and cricket.
Sophia Aubrey Drake | Big Indie Pitch Manager, Video Game Consultant & Presenter at Steel Media Ltd
The UK is a really small country geographically and at the same time it’s a very close-knitive country in terms of the video game industry. A lot of people know each other and are ready to give advice.
- Response speed depends on your intentions, role, and responsibilities. But keep in mind, everyday communication is too much for the majority of UK companies.
- Meeting notes are important. Sending a follow-up with a summary and thank you for meeting on the same or the next day is good practice.
- If you receive an email from your partner, you should send your answer on the same day (the next day at most).
- Project updates have to be done weekly or bi-weekly.
- As for long-term project updates like games or changes in the company, it’s okay to send them on a monthly basis.
- It’s typical in UK culture to avoid conflicts; even when people don't like something, they might try to hide it.
- Apologizing and seeking mediation are common cultural practices.
- The UK video game industry is close-knit, with many people knowing each other as well as offering advice and conflict resolution.
- Face-to-face meetings are the preferred method of conflict resolution.
- When giving feedback to UK colleagues or partners, it's better to be indirect. Being too blunt may come across as an attack and harm the relationship.