Ever since the early days of arcades, the gaming sector in the United Kingdom has continued to grow steadily. Now, according to a report published by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), the UK’s gaming sector is the largest entertainment industry in the nation, with a market share larger than both video and music combined.
ERA’s report found that music and video sales in 2018 reached £1.33 billion and £2.33 billion respectively, while games brought in £3.86 billion. These findings mark a huge change in how the UK’s entertainment industry functions, with games accounting for more than half of the market (51.3%) for the first time ever.
Within the report, ERA CEO Kim Bayley explains: “The games industry has been incredibly effective in taking advantage of the potential digital technology to offer new and compelling forms of entertainment. Despite being the youngest of our three sectors, it is now by far the biggest.”
Strangely, regardless of the end results, 2018 wasn’t even a particularly great year for most console releases. The amount of physical console and PC games sold in 2018 actually shrank by 2.8%, earning just under £77 million. At the same time, digital downloads grew pretty modestly by just 12.5%, accounting for £3,094 million.
It’s thought that it was the sheer scale of the current gaming industry that led to the sector taking over the entertainment industry. In fact, there were three games last year that managed to break 1 million sales: Fifa 19, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
We do think it’s important to note that the ERA takes figures from its members which include Amazon, Game and HMV, but not many mobile, iGaming or free games developers. This means that the UK gaming sector is even larger than is stated in the report, with games like Fortnite – which now has more than 200 million players around the world and is making a ton of money – not submitting their numbers.
This is also the case for the iGaming industry, which includes online casinos and sportsbooks. This sector alone has seen incredible growth over the last few years, due to new technologies such as live casino games and huge catalogues of slots that players can access anytime, anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. In the UK specifically, it’s thought that the iGaming industry is worth over £2.62 billion.
With that in mind, there’s no denying the colossal market that is gaming in the UK. As for how this happened, Piers Harding-Rolls, head of IHA Markit games research does have some insight on the rise of the gaming industry. “Games are now truly mass market and a very important part of the entertainment sector,” he told the BBC. “Growth has been fuelled by the dominance of free content and in-game monetisation, which expands the adoption of games but also removes the cap on spending for those gamers that are really engaged in experiences.”
Needless to say, all research points to the gaming sector – including console, mobile and iGaming sectors – growing even more throughout 2019.