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UK game industry growing again, according to TIGA report

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

The U.K. video game industry is growing once again after the recent recession, according to employment numbers and other measures of economic health collected in the latest report from TIGA.

According to the report, employment in game development rose by 4 percent, and annual investment by studios jumped from £411 million to £427 million in 2012. The number of U.K. studios also increased last year, from 329 to 448, as did the industry's contribution to the country's GDP, from £912 million to £947 million.

In addition, the direct and indirect tax revenues for the U.K. Treasury that the industry generated went up from £376 million to £400 million. TIGA, a trade association representing the U.K. game industry, believes the country's upcoming implementation of 25 percent tax breaks for qualifying game development will help to stimulate further growth in the industry. Games Tax Relief, as the program is known, is set to go into effect April 1.

"The UK games development sector is back on track," said Jason Kingsley, TIGA chairman and Rebellion Developments CEO, in a press release announcing the report. "Mobile and internet based gaming provide opportunities for growth; we have access to a highly skilled and creative workforce; and TIGA's Games Tax Relief will give a further boost to employment and investment from April 2013."

The press release also noted a higher level of investment in British studios in 2012 from a number of major publishers, including by Activision in its Leeds, U.K.-based mobile studio, The Blast Furnace, which developed the iOS port of Pitfall! (seen above).

Dr. Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA, was bullish on the signs of growth but cautioned at the same time that the trade body's work isn't done.

"Developer headcount and investment levels remain below the 2008 peak," said Wilson, adding that startups are particularly vulnerable. "Our challenge now — and TIGA's top priority — is to help build sustainable independent games development and digital publishing businesses."