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Mobile Tide Ebbs as Popularity of PC and VR/AR Increases for UK Studios, Says TIGA

TIGA, the network for video games developers and digital publishers and the trade association representing the video games industry,  released new data showing that over the last five years the focus of UK studios has moved away from mobile towards other platforms. In the year to November 2018, 40 per cent of UK studios were primarily focused on mobile, down from 49 per cent in 2013.

TIGA also released the following new information:

  • PC (comprising retail and online PC games, social network games and massively multiplayer online games) was the primary platform category of choice for 36 per cent of UK studios (up from 34 per cent in 2013).
  • Console platforms (comprising console and handheld retail and download categories) remains mostly confined to larger studios with 15 per cent of UK studios focused on developing for these platforms (compared to 16 per cent in 2013).
  • VR/AR is the primary focus of 8 per cent of studios (up from 2 per cent in March 2016).
  • The console category remains the largest employer of development staff by far, representing 47 per cent of developer and publisher studios’ creative staff. PC accounts for 26 per cent of development staff, mobile represents 22 per cent and VR/AR 4 per cent. Console’s dominance of development staff numbers reflects the UK’s long and successful history as one of the leading console games development nations, new opportunities as consoles upgrade or launch mid-cycle and the substantially higher average budgets and team sizes necessary for console games development.

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TIGA CEO Dr Richard Wilson, OBE, said:

“Mobile remains the most popular platform for UK games studios, but the proportion of UK development studios focused primarily on this category fell from 49 per cent in 2013 to 40 per cent in 2018.  Mobile’s allure has faded to some degree because the App stores are flooded with games, leading to huge discoverability and competitive challenges.

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“PC remains in second place, with 36 per cent of studios adopting it as their primary platform choice. The PC market is relatively less competitive than mobile: for example, Steam houses approximately 30,000 titles versus over 800,000 on iOS alone. The appeal of PC for developers has also been strengthened by the increasing competition in the PC distribution market between Steam, Epic’s Game Store, Discord and Kongregate’s Kartridge store. This competition is lowering costs for PC developers.

“14 per cent of UK studios are focused mainly on console development. This category remains the largest employer of development staff by a long chalk, employing nearly half of all UK development staff. This confirms the UK’s well established reputation as one of the leading console games development nations and the significantly higher resources and teams required for console games development.

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“The popularity of Virtual and Augmented Reality amongst UK studios has increased markedly over the last three years. 8 per cent of all UK studios are now focused on VR and AR, up from just 2 per cent in 2016.”

Jason Kingsley OBE, CEO and Creative Director at Rebellion, which develops games for mobile, PC, console and VR platforms, commented:

“The UK developers can create games for an increasingly wide choice of platforms.  Different platforms bring different challenges. It is relatively easy to develop games for mobile, but the market is highly competitive and discoverability is difficult. PC and console provide greater opportunities to build stable businesses, but the cost of game development is higher in comparison to mobile. VR and AR attract significant media attention and investment, but the degree of consumer demand is uncertain. It will be fascinating to see how UK developers create content and build businesses around these different platforms.”

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