The UK Video Games Industry: A breakdown

2 May, 2024

Although video games have been around for over 60 years, it is perhaps only since the pandemic that their value to society is truly being recognised.

With lockdown conditions forcing people inside, the UK’s home entertainment sector experienced significant growth. Indeed, in 2020, the British public spent £1.6 billion more on games than in the previous year.

The industry is continuing to grow economically, creatively and technologically. Games developers are finding new ways of improving player experience, from computer graphics to sound design, and they are using new artificial intelligence tools to push the boundaries of what we thought was possible.

At Screen and Film School, we have a dedicated video games faculty based at our Brighton campus. Here, you’ll find high-spec gaming PCs, professional-standard software, and even a console gaming facility. The city itself boasts a wonderfully diverse creative community: in an interview with the BBC, the studio head of Electric Square called it a “perfect fit” for the games industry.

Read more: Berlin’s Creative Industries: A breakdown

The industry at a glance

The UK’s favourite games

Games like FIFA and Grand Theft Auto have been making waves since the 90s and are still topping the sales charts. Other best sellers in 2023 include Hogwarts Legacy, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III and Marvel’s Spiderman 2.

At the 20th BAFTA Game Awards, Baldur’s Gate 3 emerged triumphant, securing five prizes, including Best Game. The award for Best British Game went to Viewfinder, while Dave the Diver was awarded Best Game Design.

Crossing over into film

The film and games industries overlap in countless different ways: they often use the same technology, including animation and visual effects; they can incorporate music; and they use similar storytelling techniques.

This is perhaps why video games are so amenable to adaptation into film. Ukie figures show that between January and June 2023, video game adaptations accounted for over 1% of all viewing on Netflix. In total, this amounted to over a billion hours.

Perhaps the most famous of these is The Last of Us, which began as an action-adventure game set in a post-apocalyptic world. Screen and Film School was fortunate enough to welcome Eben Bolter, the show’s cinematographer, for an exclusive masterclass in 2023.

Sports and esports

The first sports video games were ball-and-paddle games such as tennis. The 80s saw the development of driving simulation games, as well as various team sports. And these are still incredibly popular today: according to ERA figures, the biggest-selling console game of 2023 was EA Sports FC 24.

While some argue that video games encourage people to remain indoors, they can in fact have the opposite effect. One example is the 2016 game Pokémon Go, which encourages players to explore the world around them in order to catch ‘creatures’. The game not only broke sales records, but it also changed many people’s perceptions of video games.

Last year, we saw that playing video games can even boost your career. Sports Interactive’s Football Manager 2024, which won Best PC game at the Ukie Video Games Awards, is one such game: one player was so good at it that he got scouted by Bromley FC and is now working as a full-time tactician at the club.

With regards to esports, giants such as Riot Games, Twitch and FACEIT all have offices in the UK, and a 2023 Ukie report states that we have the most student esports players of anywhere in Europe. This is great for the games industry, as 46% of esports followers use online streamers to discover new games.

How can video games help mental health?

There is a degree of media scaremongering when it comes to video games. However, new evidence has emerged that video games can improve mental health, as they offer avenues for escapism and foster social connection.

A 2023 BBC article explained how The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has helped get people through tough times. The game is very open-ended, meaning that you can choose how you play. So, outside the main quest, you could wander the beautiful landscapes for a more relaxing and therapeutic experience.

The charity Safe In Our World examines the impact of video games on mental health and provides support for gamers and developers who are struggling. Their website includes plenty of mental health resources, and they also have a podcast on Spotify.

Government investment

The UK government is attempting to understand more about video games – including how the industry can benefit the wider economy, and how games can improve players’ wellbeing – using a new framework that has been devised by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport alongside industry experts.

In June 2023, the government announced £77 million of new funding for the creative industries. This includes £5 million specifically for the UK Games Fund, which awards grants to young video game developers.

It has now been decided that £3 million of this will go to 22 ‘rising star’ video games companies. With grants of up to £150,000 each, these studios will have the capacity to hire more staff and secure publishing deals.

Start your creative journey

Our undergraduate video games courses are designed with the industry at their core. You’ll learn through experimentation and exploration, and you’ll have opportunities to collaborate with film, music and performing arts students across BIMM University.

We firmly believe that Brighton is the perfect place to start and build your video games career. The city is home to over 90 games companies, including Studio Gobo and Electric Square, as well as the gaming conference, Develop, which describes itself as “the only event in the UK that brings the entire game-making industry together”.

To find out more about our incredible campus, courses and industry connections, please visit our website.



Are you interested in being a part of the new legacy at Screen and Film School?

Sign up to one of our Open Days:


Find out more information on our courses by clicking below:




© 2024 Screen and Film School
All Rights Reserved