Department for Culture Media and Sport

computer and video games

We sponsor the UK computer and video games sector, which makes a valuable contribution to our economy. Games made in UK studios generate global sales of around £1.7 billion a year and contribute around £400 million per annum to GDP.

We work with the sector to identify the drivers, challenges and opportunities for growth and productivity for individual businesses and for the UK games industry.

We work to build strong relationships with major computer and video games companies and their representative bodies, including the two national trade associations – the UK Interactive Entertainment Association (UKIE) and Tiga.

We are the voice for the industry in Government, seeking to ensure that Government policies (in the UK and beyond) support the competitiveness of the games sector.

We also work with stakeholders to keep them up to date on Government policy developments, and we’re responsible for classification issues for media.

New video games age ratings system from 30 July 2012

The Byron Review's Safer Children in a Digital World recommended making changes to the way video games are classified (age rated) in the UK. Following a full public consultation on options Government made provision, via the Digital Economy Act 2010,  to create a single video games rating system based on the pan-European PEGI ratings and to extend the statutory backing so that video games rated 12 are covered for the first time.

Secondary legislation – Video Recordings (Labelling) Regulations 2012 –  was passed setting out requirements for the PEGI age symbols to be carried on video games’ packaging and the Video Standard Council has been formally designated as the new games rating authority.

The new arrangements for video games classification and labelling are in force from 30 July. The new system means that in the UK : 

  • all video games are submitted to the Video Standards Council for classification and issued with either 3, 7, 12, 16 or 18 PEGI age ratings;
  • PEGI 12, 16 and 18 ratings are legally enforceable and it will be an offence to supply (sell or rent) video games carrying these ratings to anyone not meeting the age requirement;
  • PEGI 3 and 7 ratings will be for guidance only and products with these ratings can be supplied to persons of any age;
  • it will be an offence to supply any game unsuitable for the under-12s without an appropriate classification on it.

There will be no need for retailers to remove products classified and labelled under the old system from their shelves. Transitional Provision Regulations were laid in Parliament to preserve any determinations issued in the past by either the Video Standards Council or the British Board of Film Classification as to the suitability of a video game to be viewed by persons over the age of 12. This means that from 30 July it will be an offence to supply games that are only suitable for persons aged 12 years and above in breach of that age rating, even if the age determination has been made by the BBFC or VSC before 30 July. This provides a seamless transition for the new arrangements and means that retailers just need to look at the age rating on the box to ascertain what restrictions apply to the video game – regardless of when those age ratings were made by the classifying body.

Retailers have been dealing with the sale of age-restricted video games and DVDs for many years. However, Trading Standards Officers, central and local government will work in partnership with all retailers in the months ahead to help them ensure that they all understand the new requirements for video games and that staff are fully trained.

More information about PEGI ratings and about the classification system for video games can be found on the Video Standards Council website.

To help raise awareness of the PEGI age ratings on video games and to promote messages about safe gaming, the trade body UKIE (the UK Association for Interactive Entertainment) has launched a new campaign, Control.Collaborate.Create. More information can be found on the Ask About Games website. The Control.Collaborate.Create campaign runs until Christmas.

Facts and figures

The UK sector:

  • employs around 28,000 people including 9,000 in highly-skilled games development roles
  • has around 200 games development studios, located in clusters spread around the UK
  • in 2009 was estimated to be the 5th largest producer of games in the world (measured by revenue) behind the US, Japan and Canada (data source: GIC/Tiga)
  • is the location of the European headquarters for many multinational games companies
  • has a great reputation for talent in video games creation. British-based games developers are responsible for many iconic, globally successful games such as the Little Big Planet, Lego Star Wars, Grand Theft Auto, Lemmings and Tomb Raider series

The UK computer games market:

  • is the third largest in the world after the US and Japan
  • has the highest number of games development companies and publishers in Europe

The UK’s console market: 

  • is the largest in Europe – significantly bigger than the second, France, and third, Germany, combined