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What’s next for a video games cluster?

Our ‘blueprint for growth’ strategy has just been published
30.03.2017

Our review of the video games sector in the West Midlands, sponsored by the Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Ukie, has been published.

Focusing on the established cluster of games businesses around Leamington - known as ‘Silicon Spa’ - it develops a ‘blueprint for growth’ of the sector across access to finance, skills training, education, development of eSports, and promoting ‘games as culture’ to engage young people to study computing.

Some of our key findings were:

  • The West Midlands’ Games Sector is a 21st century growth industry. Around 130 of the UK’s best games businesses are based in the West Midlands, creating, highly skilled, productive jobs and opportunities throughout the region. The games industry in the West Midlands generated an estimated £224 million in GVA in 2015 and employed around 3,500 people.
  • The global video games industry is an economic and cultural success story – but despite the health of the industry at a ‘macro’ level, difficulties in accessing development finance and talent make life harder than ever for smaller games developers.
  • Increasing competition in the console games market – still the most profitable sector, despite the growth of mobile games – leads to higher budgets for both production and marketing, increasing risk for medium and large developers.
  • Games are an example of ‘digital manufacturing’, requiring and developing a blend of transferable 21st century skills. Making games is a fusion of art, design, programming, data analysis, science, maths – all skills transferable to other sectors. The process of developing games creates innovation in technology and tools for their manufacture – many of which are transferable to other sectors.
  • eSports is the biggest spectator sport you have never heard of. A form of competitive team-based multi-player gaming watched by live, TV and online audiences, by 2019, eSports will be a billion-dollar industry.

The interrelationship between history and culture, quality and technological innovation are the drivers of the dynamism and competitiveness of ‘Silicon Spa’. To allow the cluster to ‘punch its weight’ and act as a driver for regional competitiveness and growth, the factors that drive the international standing and competitiveness of Silicon Spa need to be differentiated from widespread and generalised growth of the creative industries in the region and celebrated as one of the UK’s leading digital manufacturing clusters.

The full report can be downloaded here.

- Iain Bennett, Associate Director