Great news for animation, games and VFX students: UK games market exceeded £4bn in 2020

25 Jan 2021

While the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging to all businesses, one sector that is truly thriving is the games industry – which exceeded £4bn in 2020 for the first time in 2020. 

In 2020 revenues were £4.2bn, a 14.5% increase from 2019, and the first time the value has breached the £4bn threshold.

The Entertainment Retailers Association reported that game sales are up both physically and digitally – up 4.6% and 16.3% respectively. The report showed that the biggest selling game was FIFA 21, with sales of 2.18 million units, while GTA 5 sold over a million copies in 2020.

Valve recently smashed its own record for the most concurrent users on its Steam platform twice in a single day, recording 25,418,674 simultaneous users – the first time the total has exceeded 25 million – 7.2 million of which were actively playing at the time. 

This huge increase in video game sales and the number of Steam users is no doubt a sign that more people have turned to gaming as a way of keeping entertained during lockdown. 

This is great news for current and prospective students studying Game Art Animation, VFX Animation or Games Programming at SAE as this high level of demand means that studios are recruiting for more talent to join their ranks and help create the next bestselling titles.

SAE Liverpool Animation, Web and Games Programme Coordinator Firdaus Khalid said: “In all of its glory, the videogame scene is one of those creative media industries out there that is not only able to withstand the global impact brought by COVID-19, but it is also literally one of those that actually continues to thrive significantly because of the pandemic. Although it sounds wrong to even say it, this niche industry was able to save a lot of jobs for game programmers, game artists and designers alike. While it is undeniable that there are financial aspects that some big and small studios had to cut down on some of their allocations, they also managed to adapt quickly. Thanks to the power of fast internet today, many have now switched their strategies towards selling their games to major online game stores like Steam and Epic Game Stores, working on more cool downloadable contents (DLCs), pushing in-app purchases, and of course virtual advertising wherever possible. This new world that we are living in now also gave birth to many phenomenal new indie game studios like Studio Innersloth (USA) with their ridiculously mega-popular Among Us, as well as MediaTonic (UK), with their super-fun Fall Guys. This also brought forward legions of online live game streamers that stream their favourite games 24/7 for their millions and millions of fans worldwide every day. True to its core, regardless of the game platforms – whether PCs, consoles, mobile games, or even VR and AR – one cannot say that this industry is not going anywhere. Especially in the UK market, which skyrocketed to over £4 billion just last 2020 alone thanks for absolutely award-winning games like Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima, as well as the release of Sony Playstation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X… the games industry is here to stay. #videogamesforever”  

In 2020, SAE graduates worked on a great range of AAA titles. Fraser Strachan spoke to us about his work as Lead Audio Designer on Forza Horizon 4, and Mark Finnie and Omar Khan spoke to us about No Code Studio’s second BAFTA win

Game Art Animation student Ross McIntosh was even recognised for his work by Fortnite maker Epic Games, who included his dinosaur cinematic in their student showreel

There were also some great events hosted by SAE in 2020; from a talk with Danny Koo and Tim Tsang of Marvel Games, to a session with Lead Animator TM Cheong from Passion Republic. Concept Artist and Art Director Jason Pickthall gave a masterclass to students, alongside Criterion Games Sound Designer Mariana Botero who spoke to students about her work on game audio

As well as events, SAE also secured interviews with prominent games industry figures: Mariana also took part in an ‘SAE Industry Insight’ interview, and students also heard from experts at Rebellion, with Lead Level Designer Jordan Woodward sharing his career trajectory in an ‘SAE Industry Insight’ feature, alongside Ubisoft Art Director Phil Bale who also took part in the ‘SAE Industry Insight’ interview series.

These are just some of the amazing creative activities and opportunities available to students at SAE UK, the home of creatives. 

Find out more about studying Animation, VFX and Games here.