UK video game industry ‘is facing brain drain’

By Scott Campbell

Britain’s video game industry could face a “brain drain” as skilled IT workers are lured abroad by higher salaries, experts have warned.

More than half of all online gaming job advertisements aimed at UK programmers are for positions based in North America, while just 20pc are in Britain, according to new research from consultants Procorre.

This figure is outstripped by demand from mainland Europe, where 26pc of jobs advertised are based.

US companies are also rushing to recruit British gambling programmers – where regulations are much less strict – as the country’s laws against online betting are gradually relaxed.

In Canada, the drive to recruit IT professionals from the UK has been supported by benefits including tax breaks and refundable tax credits, which are available in Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec for online gaming companies.

Britain’s video games industry has recently seen a number of successes, including a $7bn (£4.17bn) US flotation of King Digital — the London-based company which produces the highly addictive mobile game Candy Crush.

In Scotland, the flourishing industry includes behemoth developer Rockstar North, which is responsible for the Grand Theft Auto franchise, as well as many smaller companies and freelancers.

Last April, Dundee firm YoYo Games doubled its staff to 50 to keep up with global demand for its “GameMaker: Studio” product, which is the world’s most widely used video game development software. However, Lisa Mangan, relationship manager at Procorre, said that for Britain to retain its place as a leader in the video games industry, it is important for skilled workers to remain here.

She said: “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.”

The study comes after the European Commission introduced limited tax breaks earlier this month for companies who create software meeting a set of cultural criteria.

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