UK computer games programmers are increasingly being head-hunted by companies based in the US and Canada- risking a "brain drain" of UK IT talent, say Procorre, an international professional services consultancy that operates across 120 countries.
Procorre says that over 50% of the online gaming job adverts aimed at UK games programmers are for jobs in North America (USA and Canada). Only 20% of jobs ads aimed at UK based games programmers are for UK based jobs. Jobs aimed at UK games programmers but based in Mainland Europe also outstrip those based in the UK (see graphic below).
Procorre explains that the UK Government has taken some steps to prevent this ‘brain drain’ of these gaming professionals to overseas companies by offering limited tax breaks. Game developers are able to claim a 25% tax break on the production of games that pass a test based on whether the game is set in the UK, how many characters are from the UK, and whether the production team is based in the UK. UK games developers want to extend this to games all developed in the UK.
Procorre says that the UK has developed particular expertise in computer games development, which requires a combination of technical, creative and artistic skills. The UK has also become a world leader in online gaming such as spread betting and online gambling as its regulatory regime is far less restrictive than other countries such as the USA and Germany.
A recent example of British online computer games success has been the popular and addictive game Candy Crush whose parent company King Digital was valued at $7billion when it was floated in the US.
Procorre, whose consultants advise across all major business sectors, says that in Canada, the drive to attract computer games businesses and professionals from the UK and elsewhere has been supported by generous tax breaks for online gaming companies such as refundable tax credits and payroll tax credits, which are still on offer in Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec.
As well as British video games developers US companies are also actively recruiting UK online gambling programmers. In the US this sector has remained relatively underdeveloped because the country has had strict laws against online gambling. However, these rules are gradually being relaxed, prompting a rush by US companies to recruit top UK gaming talent in a bid for rapid expansion.
Lisa Mangan, Relationship Manager at Procorre, comments: "The UK is regarded as a leader in developing computer games and in online gaming."
"The danger for the UK games industry and for the wider UK economy is that many of the best and brightest will be recruited by overseas firms who may have deeper pockets and be prepared to pay more."
"The computer games industry makes a significant contribution to the UK economy and the Government is right to do everything it can to encourage these and other specialist IT consultants to remain in the UK."
"UK games consultants are now being courted by some of the very best international employers in online gaming and video gaming who are targeting ambitious growth. For the consultants, making the right decision means weighing up lots of different factors about location, pay and work/life balance. Many may require assistance in making those decisions as this could well be a new experience for them."
"Procorre believes that UK games consultants should have the most outstanding and rewarding work environment possible as they are some of the best professionals working in their sector. We offer support across a range of issues to help them achieve this outcome."