The Sustainability Programme
The BGI’s sustainability programme seeks to educate the public including students, games companies, investors and public bodies about sustainable games development through a series of educational initiatives, either directly or in collaboration with other organisations:
- Provide vocational training to students and young people about how to start up and grow a sustainable games company, drawing from the latest research.
- Provide vocational training to individuals in games companies to ensure they use the latest best practice to create sustainable companies.
- Provide vocational training to private and public funding sources to educate them how games are made, what success looks like and what games can deliver.
Opportunities from the games sector
The games market is growing at around 7% per annum and the UK has produced some of the world’s finest games companies, whose products usually rank the UK in the top 5 games-producing nations globally. We have over 1,200 games development companies, including over 800 studios, and 13,000 in the development workforce, filled with creative technologists with uniquely transferable skills. The potential for break-out hits has no better poster child than the fastest selling entertainment product of all time, the Grand Theft Auto series which is developed in Edinburgh.
Games add over £1.5 billion in GVA to the UK economy from this thriving, rapidly growing sector whose development hubs are spread right across the UK (only 22% of developers work in London). The games sector has attracted tens of thousands of graduates from bespoke degrees into the workforce since 2010, whose highly transferable, creative technology skills are highly sought after by other sectors, especially financial services and other media. Games are a poster child for the UK’s creative industries, being an export-driven, high margin, knowledge economy sector that generates valuable IP from cutting edge commercial models and attracts inward investment into the UK from around the world, particularly China, US and Japan.
Challenges to sustainability in games development
Despite the above success, most of the UK’s games developers still face significant challenges in creating sustainable businesses:
- Most games companies still struggle to raise finance above £50,000 due to investors’ lack of understanding and experience in the games market.
- Most of the UK’s smallest games studios struggle to grow. A massive rise in the number of studios with under 5 staff since 2010 has not yielded a similar rise in the number of studios are small companies with 5-15 staff which suggests that small studios struggle to grow.
- Hundreds of creative individuals, often from film or TV, start up a games studios but don’t have access to management or financial skills education to assist them in raising finance for games development and company growth, which limits their scale and commercial potential.
- 95% of games studios seeking institutional finance fail to do so due to a lack of understanding within the private (but also public) organisations who manage such funding.
The above challenges combine to create serious impediments to the sustainability of many games studios. Up to 12% of UK games studios close their doors every year, a mortality rate that is nearly 50% higher than other UK creative sectors.
Yet the games industry has the potential to impact the public by growing more sustainably and contributing even more to the UK economy as well as providing a wide range of job opportunities for future generations. An educational programme that provides vocational training to students, studios and investors will have wide-ranging benefit in raising the level of understanding amongst the recipients of its sustainable games development training programmes.
Support for the BGI campaign
Some of the most creative and competitive games studios in the world are based in the UK, yet almost all UK games companies struggle to raise finance. The BGI’s finance programme will help address this market failure. As one of a small number of games angels investing in UK games studios, I’m convinced that the BGI can increase the level of investment and widen the investment circle to new investors. We’re calling on the games sector and investors to support the BGI’s bid for new government funding for games production, culture and skills. Ian Livingstone CBE
I think the BGI is an important and long overdue initiative. It’s time the UK had a national games agency that champions the talent behind British-made games and recognises the contribution games make to our culture and economy. The provision of skills, training, and funding for games production will not only incentivise investors, it will ensure British studios become more sustainable, competitive and successful. Chris Lee, games angel
We really need this kind of progressive, long-term thinking for the UK games industry. We’ve seen British capital flowing into Finnish games companies due to the success of the government-backed Tekes scheme. With the UK already a world-leader in games, the BGI’s plan for soft loans to games companies with mentoring and matched funding will help drive significant amounts of new inward investment. There should be no hesitation to fund this. Shum Singh, Angitio Capital
The global games business is huge, and British games talent is world class. If the BGI can help ready that talent, investors like LVP will rush to support entrepreneurial growth with our funds, expertise and networks. David Lau-Kee, London Venture Partners
I believe this is an invaluable approach to ensure that we support and expand the economically and creatively vital video games industry in the UK. As one of the leading fund investors into the games sector in the UK, Mercia Technologies plc would welcome the introduction of a body that supports and develops new start-ups and small companies making them fit-for-purpose for further growth investment. Mike Hayes, Investment Director, Mercia Technologies
New production funding from the BGI will help British games studios create and retain their IP, ultimately benefiting the UK economy. I’m delighted to join other investors to call on government to fund this important landmark initiative. I look forward to working with the BGI team to help grow the scope and quality of games investment opportunities in the UK. Ian Hetherington, games angel