Insights Study published on how to measure M&A impact on the UK games industry


The British Film Institute and the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre jointly commissioned Games Investor Consulting Ltd (working with Oxford Economics) to conduct a scoping study to assess the feasibility of research into the economic consequences, including possible market failures, of overseas acquisitions of UK games development studios.

There were 118 transactions involving the acquisition of UK-incorporated video games development companies by overseas buyers between 1993 and 2022. Of these, 49% involved USA-headquartered buyers, then followed by China (15%) and Sweden (10%). Deal volume and value accelerated between 2018 and 2021. Most overseas acquirers were businesses already operating in the games sector, and the largest group among those was games publishers (56% of all transactions).

The study tentatively suggests that the two main drivers of deals to date have been bringing games development talent and established games intellectual property in-house. Based on the available evidence (literature review, the authors’ industry knowledge and the findings from six interviews undertaken with senior figures whose UK development companies were acquired by overseas buyers), potential positive impacts include improved access to capital and access to the acquirer’s expertise in marketing and distributing video games. Possible negative impacts include the loss of creative autonomy, which may be harmful for innovation, and the overseas transfer of profits.

Research in this area could lead to a more evidenced-based debate about overseas acquisitions of UK games businesses, a phenomenon likely to continue in the coming years. However, consistent, reliable and accessible data does not currently exist. The study therefore proposes a data strategy and analytical methodology to provide a clearer understanding of the impacts of overseas M&A on the UK games industry.

For more information, click here.