Lockdown causes UK video games revenue to smash $5.7bn in 2020

Lockdown causes UK video games revenue to smash $5.7bn in 2020

UK video games spending rose by 14.5 per cent during 2020.

That's according to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), which reports that the medium brought in £4.22bn ($5.7bn) last year, largely thanks to – what else? – the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic which has seen people ordered to stay at home for large periods of time to help slow or stop the spread of the virus.

Unsurprisingly, digital games saw a 16.3 per cent increase in revenue year-on-year - according to estimates provided by research firm Omdia – likely due to people wanting instant gratification when it comes to entertainment. Physical products saw a 4.6 per cent increase, according to GSD Data from European video games trade body ISFE, probably the result of ordering games via services like Amazon.

As has become common, EA's FIFA series took the top spot, with FIFA 21 shifting 2.18 million units, while last year's edition of the football blockbuster was the fourth highest-selling release of 2020 with 903,810 copies sold. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War took the No.2 spot with 1.4 million units shifted, while Grand Theft Auto V sold 1.1 million units seven years after its 2013 release.

“If there was ever a year in which we needed entertainment, it was 2020," ERA CEO Kim Bayley (pictured) said.

"The trend towards an increasingly digital entertainment market may be long-established, but no one could have foreseen this dramatic leap as digital services filled the gap left by shuttered cinemas, concert halls and retail stores. With much of the country shut down, ERA’s members provided a welcome revenue stream for thousands of musicians, actors, directors and countless backroom staff.”

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.