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Results from our first Games Industry Survey

We are excited to share the results from our first survey to map the Games industry in Scotland, which we ran from 22 January to 8 February 2016. Kristina (Creative Industries Team) takes us through the findings.

We consulted with TIGA and UKIE and worked with the Scottish Games Network to develop a survey that can be used to track the sector over a period of time in order to better understand its impact and identify the most appropriate future support mechanisms.

We also spoke to people across the industry and in October last year we hosted an event in Edinburgh where we asked for input into the survey to find out if we were asking the right questions.

Light Bytes event in Dundee 

What does the survey tell us?

The results of the first survey threw up lots of interesting information; we had a total of 150 respondents who identified themselves as companies (63), sole traders (39) and students (48). We received a lot of feedback from employees who also wanted to take part and share their views on the sector, so for the next round of questions we will be looking for responses from individuals working for companies as well the views of those leading companies and sole traders.

In response to the number of people who told us that they work on table top and physical games, we have changed the name from the Digital Games Industry Survey to the Games Industry Survey. We have also added options to some of the questions to allow people to tell us if they work in this area.

The survey creates a picture of those who work in the sector today. It looks like the majority of people in the games sector in Scotland are men who work for micro enterprises based in Dundee. They do “for hire” work but also create their own original IP. On average they sell less than 1000 units annually. Do you recognise this? If not, tell us! We’re launching the next survey today and we are looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Light Bytes event in Dundee

One of the most interesting sections of the survey was the free comment box where people told us what they thought on a number of topics which affect the industry. An area which provoked a variety of responses was the ability of the Scottish games sector to attract and retain talent; for example one person commented “It's a shame that the Scottish industry is forcing designers away because it mostly only has small companies” whilst another responder said “It can be difficult for small companies to attract talent from elsewhere, especially for niche positions that require experience”

Make sure you complete the survey and share it with your friends and colleagues. We want to get the most comprehensive results possible in order to track changes and better respond to the sectors needs.

Full results

The simple on-line survey asked 17 questions and was distributed widely through a number of networks. The questions were developed in response to an open meeting held in October 2015 where the questions were refined through discussion with representatives from the industry as well as public and private sector partners.

The survey was timed to launch in January 2016 and will be repeated at six monthly intervals until January 2018. We are aiming to repeat this survey on a twice-yearly basis to help us understand the evolution of the sector.

The survey had a total of 150 respondents who identified themselves as companies (63), sole traders (39) and students (48).

There were a small number of responses that have not been included in this analysis as they were either duplicates (more than one person responding from a single organisation) or significantly incomplete.

The responses may not represent the complete picture of the digital games sector in Scotland, but we are publishing the information we have received to date in order to develop the dialogue around the position of the sector and what needs to be done to support its future development.

This information is, we hope, a fair reflection of what the sector has told us through this process both through the data provided and the additional commentary. The next stage of this process was to refine these questions further, partially in response to some very valuable free-form responses that we received, prior to issuing the follow-up survey which is available from today.

Responses from Businesses

Of the 102 respondents to the questions targeted at businesses, 49 chose to identify their company and 14 preferred to remain anonymous. The remainder defined themselves as sole traders and were not asked to provide their names.

The vast majority described themselves as ‘games developers’ with 43 respondents saying that their business model involved a mixture of making their own games and working for hire. Only two company respondents said they only did work for hire, while 12 sole traders worked in this manner. 19 companies said they only made their own games with 17 sole traders doing the same. A further 10 respondents said that they worked in other areas (research, interaction design, VR/AR). Not all respondents answered this question.

Type of work undertaken 

Company size 

The majority of companies were micro-enterprises with less than 5 employees, with a small number of larger companies. 59 companies responded to questions about employment with 15 companies (25%) stating that they recorded equal opportunities data and 25 (42%) able to provide data on gender breakdown. This produced figures of 216 male employees and 52 female employees, a gender ratio of approximately 4:1 in favour of men.

Number of employees 

Trade bodies

Membership of trade bodies was also reported as being low and we will follow up on this in the next survey to make sure we are receiving accurate information.

Business location

Of those who provided a postcode, the highest concentration of businesses were located in the Dundee area, with a slightly broader national distribution of sole traders than of companies.

Companies Sole Trader Combined
Dundee 23 12 35
Edinburgh 9 11 20
Glasgow 9 10 19
Falkirk/Stirling 2 2 4
Motherwell 2 1 3
Inverness 2 1 3
Fife 1 2 3
Perthshire & South Highlands 1 2 3
Paisley/Argyll 0 3 3
Dumfries & Galloway 1 0 1
Aberdeen 0 1 1

Development platforms

In terms of platforms, the most popular option was development for mobile platforms (55), with Windows/OSX/Linux following behind with (41). 35 respondents were working towards releasing content on Steam and 29 focused on console development (Xbox (13) and Playstation (16)). 20 worked on other kinds of on-line projects with further individuals working on Facebook, music or VR projects.

What platforms do you develop for 


In response to the question ‘How many of your games have been sold or downloaded in the past 12 months?’ we had 86 responses which we have separated out below for companies and sole traders. This analysis provides some indication that most games produced in Scotland are selling in smaller numbers, although it is possible that a number of different businesses may work on a single product, which may distort these figures.

Units sold by businesses 

Awareness of support systems

Respondents were asked to score 13 organisations according to how often they engaged with them. There were 43 responses to this question and the table below details these responses. The responses given in this section tended to be either ‘frequently’ or ‘never’, representing a diversity of relationships rather than a broad average, perhaps describing the nature of the relationships in this area. There is also an obvious disparity in the inclusion of organisations that only have a regional or local remit within this list which is likely to increase the number of ‘never’ responses.

How often do you engage with organisations

The next survey is open now until 6pm on Friday 24th June (extended deadline).

Images taken at Light Bytes event organised by Creative Edinburgh, Creative Dundee & We Throw Switches. Photo by Mihaela Bodlovic.