Is London still the hub of UK gaming industry?

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    • 15% of the total UK population is based in London
    • London generates 22% of the country’s total GDP
    • Every year over £30 billion is taken from London’s fiscal surplus and spent on other areas of the UK

    In the United Kingdom it is hard to escape the fact that London is the financial heart of the country. It is a hub of finance and innovation and is seen as one of the five command centres for the global economy.

    The largest banks, publishing houses and TV studios are all based in London, so it is only natural to assume that the capital is also the hub of the British gaming industry. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

    The majority of Britain’s £5.7 billion a year gaming industry is littered up and down the country bringing significant economic boosts to some unexpected regions. In this article we will look at the various regions across the country that are powering Britain’s gaming industry.

    The Midlands

    One of the biggest economic success stories of the British gaming industry is online gambling. The billion-pound industry is the envy of the world and is frequently cited as a blueprint to follow for countries that are looking to make the most of a legal and well-regulated online gambling industry.

    Much of the technology powering the UK’s online gambling industry is developed and created in the Midlands. In cities such as Stoke, Leicester, Derby and Nottingham, thousands of casino games like online slots that offer appealing bonuses are designed and developed every year.

    It’s not just gambling companies that thrive in the Midlands though, there is also a bustling video game industry in the region. Leamington Spa is the home of Codemaster and Ubisoft, two companies that employ more than 900 people who have worked on the development of games such as F1 and Tom Clancy: The Division.

    Scotland

    The good people of Scotland need no reminding about how they are often overlooked by their Southern countrymen and, Londoners. When it comes to video games though, Scotland leads the way and it’s all thanks to four friends from Dundee.

    In 1987 David Jones set up DMA Design Limited and quickly hired his school friends Mike Dailly, Russell Kay and Steve Hammond. Within a few years the company became a household name around the world after developing cult-classic Lemmings.

    Six years after that in 1997 DMA released a title that changed the gaming scene and catapulted the company to the top of the world. That game was Grand Theft Auto, a genre-defining game that has only grown in popularity over the course of the past two-and-a-half decades.

    DMA (now known as Rockstar North) are busy working away at another release in the Grand Theft Auto series but have shrouded the release date in secrecy.

    GTA 5, the last game in the series sold over 90 million copies worldwide, generating over $6 billion in revenues making it the biggest success story in British gaming ever.

    The South East

    At time of writing there have been 19,617 video games released by British developers. 38% of those titles have been produced in the South East, which historically has been a hive for many of the country’s leading creative minds.

    Of the 2000+ gaming companies in the UK, almost 400 are based in the South East. These companies employ over 3000+ and add £356.3 million to the local economy every year.

    Brighton is the hub of the gaming industry in the region and is home to several big-name developers including Brightrock – the company behind War of the World: Heart of Gold – and Sumo Digital.

    Mobile gaming is the speciality of many South East games developers and it is a good area to specialise in with recent statistics showing that over half of all gamers prefer to play on their mobile device than on console.

    Northern Ireland

    For the better part of the last century the economy of Northern Ireland has been based mainly on agriculture and industry. Changing times has seen the need for many of Belfast’s main exports wane and fall in recent decades, leading to a stagnation of the country’s economy.

    Keen to redress this the Stormont Executive announced a swathe of new plans to kickstart and modernise Northern Ireland’s economy last year. Chief amongst them were plans to provide a stimulus to Ulster’s urging video games sector.

    Government grants have enabled developers to come up with unique and interesting games such as Buildings Have Feelings Too, a mobile title developed by Belfast based Blackstaff Games.

    As well as providing grants to individual start-ups, the local government has invested in building its own answer to Silicon Valley. Belfast’s Ormeau Bath’s Innovation Centre is a creative hub where the country’s brightest minds can bring their ideas to fruition.

    Currently Northern Ireland is responsible for 1% of all video games produced in the UK, but with this latest government stimulus it is hoped that many more great gaming titles will be exported from Northern Ireland in years to come.

    Summing Up

    British gaming is vast and varied, flourishing in almost every region up and down the country, yet it rarely gets the recognition it deserves. For instance, gaming development here in the UK is worth much more to the economy in terms of revenues and jobs than fishing, yet it rarely receives even a fraction of the same media coverage.

    Whilst video games development is alive and well outside of the capital, that doesn’t mean that London is a small fry either. Almost a quarter of gaming revenues come from London-based companies.

    For the greater good of the country though, it is great to see the gaming industry alive and well in so many regions throughout the country.