THE Scottish video games industry has seen a surge in the number of people it employs and the amount of money it generates, according to research.

The TIGA representative body said the sector in Scotland has also recorded a rise in the number of studios trading, investment and contribution to UK GDP.

The sector has scored notable international successes in recent years with Rockstar North’s Grand Theft Auto games becoming one of the most popular series of all time and 4J Studios, founded by Chris van der Kuyl and Paddy Burns, working with Mojang on the Minecraft phenomenon.

Loading article content

More recently Outplay Entertainment has been collaborating with Angry Birds creator Rovio on new games.

TIGA said the number of creative staff in Scottish studios grew almost nine per cent between 2013 and 2014 up from 964 to 1,050 while jobs indirectly supported by games companies was up by a similar percentage from 1,762 to 1,920.

The Scottish sector’s contribution to GDP grew by more than nine per cent from £99 million to almost £108m with tax revenues said to have increased from £41m to £44m.

The number of game development studios rose from 94 to 97 while investment was stated to have grown from £45m to £49m.

TIGA said Scotland represents 11.1 per cent of the UK’s total number of games companies which is down slightly from the 11.4 per cent recorded in 2013 but still well ahead of the 8.8 per cent in 2012.

Scotland also has 9.7 per cent of the UK’s total developer headcount, the same as in 2013 and up from nine per cent in 2012.

The figures suggest the sector has recovered well from the collapse of its biggest independent company, Realtime Worlds, in August 2010 which saw 150 jobs lost.

Richard Wilson, chief executive of TIGA, said the growing number of smartphone and tablet devices has helped many companies get games to market more easily.

Mr Wilson also cited tax breaks and benefits from the sales of the Playstation Four and Xbox One consoles as among the reasons for the Scottish sector doing well.

The research, carried out for TIGA by Games Investor Consulting, suggested further growth is likely in the coming years particularly as Games Tax Relief measures are starting to come through.

TIGA estimated over the next five years the tax breaks will help to create more than 260 new studio jobs as well as safeguarding 140 existing ones.

Along with that around 400 indirect jobs are expected to be created and 260 protected.

TIGA believes the relief could also help Scotland’s gaming industry double its GDP contributions to more than £210m.

Professor Gregor White, head of the school of arts, media and computer games at Abertay University, said: "Achieving nine per cent growth in employment and contribution to UK GDP is no mean feat, especially in an industry as globally competitive as video games. While this is welcome news, we must not lose sight of how much work there is left to do - across Scotland and the wider UK we still need more of a joined-up approach to fulfil the potential of our sector.”

DFC Intelligence has estimated the global video games industry will be worth $96 billion by 2018, up from $68bn in 2013.

Mr Wilson said: “It shows the overall market is growing. If Scottish and UK companies play their cards right and create good content and we have a supportive tax system then there is every reason to believe we can win a growing share of that market.”

Mr Wilson added he would like to see access to finance improved through a match funding scheme, a commitment to making sure the tax relief stays competitive and a greater focus on commercial skills for those leading games companies.

He said: “There are always more things governments can do to reinforce the success that is happening.”

Colin Anderson, managing director of Dundee based Denki, said: “It's great to see our sector going from strength to strength. This is just reward for an incredibly hard-working industry that's been through so many tough years.”

Grant Alexander, commercial director at Beartrap Games, said access to finance was still a major problem for many smaller games companies and added: “There's a lot more we can do to alleviate the challenges developers and digital publishers face, and help more Scottish games businesses not only survive, but thrive."