The UK consumer gaming market is continuing to grow after its record highs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2021 it rose 1.9% to £7.16bn, according to trade body UKIE.
“The UK consumer games market has consolidated effectively following significant growth during the COVID-19 pandemic,” commented Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie.
“The UK is a nation that loves its video games and we should be proud of the positive contribution this sector makes to the economy, to our culture and to wider society.”
The figures take into account how much money consumers in the UK are spending on game software, game hardware and on game culture (such as toys, movies and books).
Game hardware sales were up 17.4% year-on-year to £2.66bn, led by Sony and Microsoft console releases.
“2021 was the first full calendar year for Sony’s PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series consoles,” said Dorian Bloch, Senior Client Director at GfK Entertainment.
“Both made a huge impact in Q4/20 at launch, with consumer demand outstripping supply, so there is no surprise that this is the best year since the all-time peak back in 2008.
“But we should not forget that Nintendo’s Switch also enjoyed another big year in 2021. This is a fifth year at market for the Switch, which has been rejuvenated and refreshed a number of times since 2017 – most notably with Switch Lite in 2019 and Switch OLED in 2020.”
There was also a significant growth in Virtual Reality (VR) hardware sales, which reached a new high of £183m (up 41.9% year on year). That came as Oculus Quest 2 was officially renamed Meta Quest, following Facebook’s rebrand.
The software market was valued at £4.28bn, which is a decline compared to 2020’s high, but it has grown 11.4% compared to 2019.
“The important story here is of how much of the lockdown-related boost seen in 2020 has been successfully retained during 2021’s year of correction,” said Steven Bailey, Senior Analyst (Games) at Omdia.
“We expect a return to growth for most digital areas in 2022, as game-makers continue creating new standards of compelling content, and explore combinations of business models that can help keep people engaged and connected even during unstable times.”
Physical game sales declined, however mobile game revenue held steady at £1.46bn
When it came to video game culture, there was a 13.8% growth, to £226m. This was led by sales of Toys & Merchandising.
“Video and Digital Game related toys have seen consistent double-digit growth in the UK for the last three years and are now 5% of total UK Toys sales,” explained Melissa Symonds, Executive Director of UK Toys at NPD.
“Pokemon was not only the fastest growing video game related property, but also the fastest growing property across the total toy market last year. It demonstrates that kids and adults alike, love to play with their favourite gaming characters in all formats.”