Esports provides staggering boost to UK economy

Adam Fitch
London Royal Ravens and Fnatic Tekkz

A report commissioned by UK video game trade body Ukie reveals surprising statistics about the nation’s esports performance, both domestically and globally.

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The report from Olsberg•SPI with Nordicity, named “The Value of Esports in the UK,” looks at the economic impact of esports in the United Kingdom, offering an overview of the ever-growing industry and how it affects trade regionally.

One of the most promising takeaways from the research is that esports has grown in the UK at an average annual rate of 8.5% between 2016 and 2019. This will be some attributed to the rise of esports on a global basis, with UK organizations such as Fnatic and Excel witnessing dramatic growth over the time period.

It’s also that the sector supported over 1,200 jobs in 2019, even though it’s estimated that the UK represents under 8% of the entire global esports market. North America and Asian countries such as China and Korea are undoubtedly the largest players in the market. Nonetheless, findings suggest that esports contributed £111.5 million ($144.4 million) in gross value to the UK economy throughout the last year.

Fnatic competing in the LEC
Fnatic have expanded in the past year but are still based in the UK.

Based on the results of the study, Ukie believes that governmental inclusion will be a catalyst — and necessary component — of growth in UK esports. The trade body recommends that regular engagement should be established by industry players and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport; this has already been an increasing reality in 2019 and 2020.

It’s worth noting that the United Kingdom found itself represented regularly in major leagues through long-term partnerships and franchising. This includes Fnatic and Excel Esports’ inclusion in Riot Games’ LEC, Cloud9’s London Spitfire franchise in the Overwatch League, and Rogue’s parent company’s London Royal Ravens in the Call of Duty League. These cemented positions serve as constant promotion for UK esports.

“Esports is a global sector at the intersection of technology, creativity, broadcast and entertainment – all areas of real national strength for the UK,” said Ukie’s CEO, Dr Jo Twist. “This report shows us that the UK has a strong and growing esports industry, but that there is more to do to capture the full potential of this exciting, high-growth sector.”

London Royal Ravens Home Series Event
London Royal Ravens hosted their own event in the UK earlier this year.

Another major suggestion based on the report is that the immigration system needs to be clearer as far as esports players and talent are concerned. While countries such as Germany have made huge advancements on this front, things are still foggy in the UK.

The main takeaway should perhaps be that while the nation is still not quite the force many would love for it to be, it’s on a promising trajectory.

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