Record growth for UK video games market

The UK video games market has grown 12.4 per cent in 2017 to a record £5.11bn, according to industry trade body Ukie, with digital exceeding £1.5bn for the first time.

The sale of physical boxed games has bucked recent trends to increase by 3.1 per cent.

Jamie Sefton, managing director of Game Republic, a network of Yorkshire games developers, said the region is contributing a great deal to the industry’s success.

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One of the key trends in driving growth has been the sales of consoles, he told The Yorkshire Post.

Jamie Sefton , MD of Game Republic.

“It’s been a big year in console sales,” Mr Sefton said. “There’s been some great discounts for Playstation 4 and Xbox One leading up to Christmas so they sold really well.”

Premium versions of consoles such as the Playstation 4 Pro and Xbox One X have boosted sales, as well as the popular launch of the Nintendo Switch console.

The region has a very “vibrant” video games sector. However, Mr Sefton warned that not all developers are doing well.

He said: “Just from being at the coalface I know we have companies in the region doing well but we also have companies in the region that are finding it very tough.

Jamie Sefton , MD of Game Republic.

“We have to temper the headlines of it all being success because it is very, very competitive and some of our companies are having issues of access to finance, skills and visibility as well.”

There are 800 games a month being released on Steam, the online marketplace for PC games, said Mr Sefton.

He added: “It’s fantastic for our companies that the market is large and growing but it’s a complex picture.”

The rise of digital games has boosted Yorkshire’s sector as whole allowing for smaller independent developers to enter the market.

Small companies no longer have to worry about having to deal with third parties and giving them a cut.

Mr Sefton said: “The fact that our independent companies can now sell worldwide from this region is hugely important.

“It has resulted in this indie game explosion. I’ve seen more companies set up in the last three four years than I did in the previous 10 years.

“It has allowed companies to set up and distribute their games much easier. They retain 70 per cent of the money that comes back in.”

Ukie’s data also showed that VR hardware sales had reach £100m in the UK. Mr Sefton said that VR is still very “niche”.

However, Yorkshire companies are pushing the boundaries when it comes to VR despite the still nascent technology at their disposal.

The increase in the sales of physical copies is an “interesting” trend, Mr Sefton said.

“Talking to companies, a lot of them who do sell digital games, also like to work with a publisher that can actually get box copies on the shelves as well. They do sell very well. Some people just like to have physical copies of games and keep them in their collection. Also it’s better for gifting.”