Gaming industry emerges as a top pandemic employer

One of the UK’s youngest tech sectors, Gaming, has risen in prominence in the past five years – employing a combined 47,000 directly and indirectly across related industries.

But the past year has seen a 20 per cent increase in job vacancies within the sector with this predicted to increase threefold in the next five, following a 218 per cent jump in physical game sales during lockdown – setting a new trend of the afterwork “downtime”.

The findings come from a new report from global recruiter Robert Walters and data provider Vacancysoft – Gaming: Perfect Play for Growth.

 Tom Chambers, Senior Manager Technology at Robert Walters, said: “With the average contribution per employee of the Gaming sector sitting at £80,000 – double the national average and the most productive of all the creative industries in the nation – there is no industry quite like Gaming that is able to evidence its high potential in helping to uphold the UK economy as we navigate out of the pandemic.”

In a sign of the increasing maturity of the sector, gaming companies are rapidly increasing recruitment in sales and marketing to better monetise their products. In fact, in 2019 there was a 25 per cent increase in marketing vacancies compared to the previous year.

Whereas historically IT has dominated the hiring agenda within gaming – previously representing 75 per cent of all roles advertised – this has now dropped to 68 per cent. Instead, back office and support function roles have grown in prominence.

  • Employment in gaming grew by 20% this year – bucking the trend
  • Jobs in gaming expected to increase threefold within 5 years
  • Gaming staff contribute £80,000 each to economy – double national average
  • Significant sectoral hubs based in 20 towns & cities across UK

Thomas Shibley, Global Head of Player Support at Wildlife Studios, said: “The UK and Ireland are uniquely placed in that they have the golden combination of some the best and most advanced tech talent in the world, as well as long established and best practice methods in product marketing and sales.

“Whilst currently other countries such as China and USA dominate in the Gaming sector, the UK  and Ireland have created the ideal breeding ground for new entrant and established games studios to flourish. As the uptake of Gaming becomes increasingly more mass market, the industry will continue to grow at an exponential rate, further driving the hiring agenda.”

The Walters findings suggest the regional contribution of the sector is significantly more widespread than any other creative industry – whereby more than half of job vacancies in the film industry are based in London, the figure is 28 per cent for games, with significant sectoral hubs based in more than 20 towns and cities.

There are eight towns and cities in the country where the games industry generates over £60m in GVA into the local economy: Edinburgh, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Leamington Spa, Crawley and Horsham, Manchester, Guildford, Slough and Heathrow, and London.

And there are 23 towns and cities across the UK that are home to more than 20 local game companies. It is these micro-businesses of less than 10 employees that represent almost 14 per cent of the industry total – employing 4,000 full-time roles and generating £339m in GVA.