Gaming Industry – driving innovation and demand for offices in Surrey.

While computer and online games are sometimes sneered at for being something just teenagers are interested in, the gaming industry has made a significant contribution to the economy of Surrey over the past twenty years. At the same time, it has fostered a culture of innovation across the county that has been a driving force within the commercial property market.

The impact of the industry on the economy of the country as a whole should not be underestimated as, in 2020, the UK gaming industry accounted for 7.7% of the global gaming market, making it the sixth-largest gaming market worldwide, and it is estimated that the gaming industry contributed £2.91 billion to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product in 2020.

In Surrey, the towns of Guildford and Farnham have, in particular, emerged as thriving centres of the sector, with a concentration of renowned game development studios, educational institutions offering game-related programs, and a vibrant gaming community, these towns have earned their reputation as hotspots for creativity and collaboration in the gaming world.

Guildford has been called the “Hollywood of the UK gaming industry” due to its abundance of game development studios. The town boasts a vibrant gaming community and is home to several renowned game companies that have left a lasting impact on the wider industry.

Although it closed its doors in 2016, Lionhead Studios, which was the developer of the critically acclaimed “Fable” series of games, left a lasting legacy and is part of Guildford’s gaming history, serving as a testament to the town’s rich gaming heritage.

Another prominent game development studio in Guildford is Media Molecule, a multi-award-winning game developer with a reputation for innovative and critically acclaimed game series and is known for pushing the boundaries of game design and nurturing creativity within the industry.

Wargaming the World of Tanks developer/publisher has tripled its footprint in Guildford since it first moved into Guildford Business Park in 2019 and now occupies over 35,000 sq ft. Arguably the biggest name in Guildford is the global heavyweight EA Sports who occupy the majority of the 90,000 sq ft Onslow House in Guildford and have done for nearly 20 years. In turn, many alumni of the likes of EA and Lionhead have set up and grown their own gaming companies in Guildford, with Fuse Games being the latest new studio to take office space in Guildford.

Guildford’s gaming industry thrives on collaboration and mutual support among developers. The sense of community within the industry has led to the creation of unique and successful games, as well as the sharing of knowledge and resources. This collaborative environment enhances the town’s reputation as a breeding ground for exceptional gaming experiences.

The growth of the gaming industry in Guildford has also had an impact on the educational courses locally and The University of Surrey, located in Guildford, plays a pivotal role in nurturing local gaming talent, offering various game-related programs and courses with a strong focus on design, development, and technology. By providing a robust talent pool, the university contributes to the growth and innovation of the local gaming industry.

Just a few miles to the west, in Farnham, the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) also offers game-related programs and courses with an emphasis on digital arts and game design. The annual UCA Games Showcase provides students with a platform to exhibit their game projects to industry professionals and the public, fostering connections and exposure within the gaming industry with the rise of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mobile gaming, Farnham-based developers are at the forefront of exploring and creating innovative gaming experiences.

All of this activity is clearly good news for the regional commercial property market. It is worth noting that one of the biggest office requirements in Guildford in 2023 is for Larian Studios, based in Eastgate Court but looking for between 15,000 and 40,000 sq ft of freehold offices to give them space to grow into.

Notable transactions in the sector include:
2022 – Supermassive Games – 20,842 sq ft – Ranger House + 17,321 sq ft in 65 Woodbridge Road, Guildford
2022 – Stellar Entertainment Software – 8,670 sq ft – 255 High Street Guildford
2022 – X Flow II – 2,600 – 255 High Street, Guildford
2022 – Scullcandy UK (manufactures of gaming headphones) – 1,763 sq ft – Andrews House
2022 – Glowmade – 4,297 sq ft – Crossweys, 28-30 High St, Guildford
2020 – Wargaming UK – 23,178 sq ft – Guildford Business Park, in addition to the 10,800 sq ft the firm already occupied.

The concentration of game development studios, educational institutions, and supportive communities, in Surrey have not only boosted the local economy but have also played a pivotal role in shaping the UK’s gaming landscape. As the industry continues to evolve, Guildford and Farnham remain prominent centres for game development, driving innovation and creativity in the global gaming community and creating demand for modern, good-quality office and studio space that can help attract and retain the best talent.

Earlier this year Guildford and Surrey’s gaming community highlighted just how far the industry has come with over 1000 people attending the Guildford Games Festival, an event for developers, publishers, creatives and technical teams at G Live.


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