The UK video games market is worth a record £7.16bn

By Steffan Powell
Gaming reporter

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Image source, Getty Images

The value of the UK video games market continued to grow in 2021, reaching a record high of £7.16bn - an increase of 2% on 2020.

UK gamers spent more last year than they did during the height of lockdown, according to trade body UKIE.

Sales of consoles, including the much coveted Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, brought in £1.13bn.

UK games revenue has grown steadily in recent years. The latest figure marks an increase of 32% compared with 2019.

Given that many turned to gaming during the pandemic to provide entertainment whilst stuck indoors, it would not have been a surprise had the market shrunk after restrictions were loosened.

Image caption,
Sales of the PS5 and Xbox Series X have driven a record high level of consumer spending in the gaming market

And while last year's 2% rise might be modest compared with the nearly 30% leap from 2019's £5.35bn to 2020's £7bn, it's a rise nonetheless.

The latest annual valuation of gaming revenue in the UK gives an indication of not only how much is being spent, but also where that money is being spent.

Despite consistent concerns over availability since their release in late 2020, Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X/S console sales have helped propel the games market in the UK to record heights.

Supply chain issues caused by the pandemic have frustrated some who have found it difficult to get hold of new consoles, with a global chip shortage restricting the number of machines hitting the shops.

Image source, BBC+-

Despite this, console hardware sales still made up £1.13bn of the overall value of the market - an increase of more than 30% on the previous year thanks to those releases and a new Nintendo Switch hitting the market.

With supply issues easing and more signature games becoming available for the latest generation of consoles, we can expect this trend to continue ahead of next year's figures.

Games makers might be concerned that despite this overall increase in revenue, the amount of money people are spending on games themselves has gone down. Income from the purchase of releases has reduced by 6% compared with 2020.

One of the criticisms of the new consoles is a lack of games tailored to the latest technology. Developers will hope that this is the reason behind the slowdown in software sales, rather than a more fundamental change in consumer behaviour.

Image source, Warner Bros/Wizarding World
Image caption,
2022 looks to have a stronger line-up of game releases compared to last year

With major titles like Horizon Forbidden West, Elden Ring, Starfield and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Legacy coming in 2022 the industry will be banking on a significant increase in game sales figures next year.

The only category of software sales not to decline was mobile games. They maintained their 2020 level, once again worth £1.46bn.

After being hailed as the next generation of gaming for some time - but failing to yet breakthrough to compete with more traditional forms of the medium - fans of virtual reality will be pleased to see that VR hardware sales rose significantly, increasing by 41.9% to reach £183m in 2021.

In the year that Facebook rebranded as Meta and placed a big emphasis on VR technology and its application in the Metaverse, an increase in headset sales might have been expected.

Video game licensed toys and merchandise also saw a significant boost last year mainly because of the success of Pokémon merchandise.

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