A Labour MP has recently found himself at the centre of a media storm for having the gall to claim that the gaming sector is more important to the economy of the UK than fishing. Hard-right newspapers and Leave campaigners have highlighted this comment as just yet another example of how Labour does not care about the public or the economy.
Out of touch is a phrase that has been used to describe Jonathan Reynolds, the MP who was responsible for this claim. Yet the facts and figures paint the picture of a man who is almost certainly not out of touch.
The video games industry in the UK is worth well over 5 billion pounds to the economy – almost 5 times more than fishing – and employs twice the number of people. British gaming is also one of the fastest-growing industries in the country, but what you might not know is where this growth is coming from.
Traditional video game titles like Grand Theft Auto – which is made in Scotland – obviously stimulate the industry, but it is traditional games making the move to the digital platform that is fuelling the growth in the gaming market.
Read on to find out which classic games are now thriving online.
At one time in the 1960s, there were over 14 million registered players in the UK with over 163,000 regularly playing the game every week at bustling bingo halls the length and breadth of the country.
Whilst the game did remain popular throughout the majority of the 20th century, its popularity began to wane following the turn of the Millennium. The smoking ban, which was passed in 2005 was seen as the final nail in the coffin of bingo, as it killed the community feel and marathon nature of a night at the bingo.
Playing numbers began to drop as scores of halls seemed to be closing on a weekly basis. The future looked bleak for bingo and many within the industry began to think of it as a thing of the past, consigning it to the same category as other extinct entities such as the Dodo.
Around 2007 savvy online entrepreneurs began to recognise the appeal of bingo to internet customers. Promotions such as no deposit bingo bonuses began to pop-up in a bid to lure new players and it worked.
Within a few years, bingo was on the rise again and whilst numbers do remain some way off the 14 million of the 1960s, more and more people are coming to the game and revenues are expected to hit £1 billion in the not too distant future.
This two-person board game is believed to be one of the oldest recorded games in the history of the world. The game that we play and love to this day is said to have come from the 7th century Indian game of Chaturanga.
Whilst chess has not been the most popular game in the world for some time, it has always had high participation numbers around the globe. From casual players who enjoy the game at home to the professionals who compete against one another and supercomputers for cash prizes.
However, more and more people are now taking to their smartphones and tablets to play chess either on social media or on dedicated apps. The internet’s largest chess site claims to have over 15 million registered players signed up to play the game.
Popularity is all well and good, but you may still be wondering how the game has managed to contribute money and jobs to the economy. Quite simply, online chess games make revenue through the same means as every other app – advertising.
Usually, players can pay for premium features that disable adverts, but the majority choose to play the free version which rakes in huge sums of money through advertising. To put the advertising revenues into perspective, a prime time advert on ITV (broadcast to around 7 million viewers) costs anything from ten to thirty thousand pounds…
This next category is somewhat hard to nail down and group together as patents and naming rights have led to a plethora of similar games all with different names. Essentially this category covers what you may know as Scrabble, grouping together similar games that are operating under a different moniker.
For decades Scrabble and similar games have been the staple of home entertainment for families up and down the country. Can you remember a Boxing Day when not at least one person has suggested a game of Scrabble? Thought not.
By that same token can you also remember Words With Friends? It was the social media game that took its inspiration from Scrabble and had millions of people signed-up when it was launched back in 2009.
The game – developed by the Bittner brothers – does seem to have fallen in popularity since those early Halcyon days but it is still widely played around the globe. Estimates suggest that at any given time there are 57 million people worldwide playing the game.
Words With Friends has 13 million monthly users and is downloaded 350,000 times by new players each month. The most recent update in 2017 to the game has helped to keep it in the public consciousness and see user levels stabilise before beginning to grow once more.
The creators of Words With Friends sold their development company to Zynga in 2012 for a reported $53 million with the Scrabble-esque game being the only real title of value in the company’s portfolio.
Gaming is one of the biggest financial industries in the world and is ever-growing. Quite often it is the less-talked-about games like Chess, Bingo and Word With Friends that are responsible for increasing revenues and staggering profits.
Rather than labelling Jonathan Reynolds as out of touch for recognising this fact, we should be applauding him. Finally, a politician has awoken to the massive potential of the gaming industry, one which will surely define future economies and provide massive employment stimuli.