UK Video Games Sector Afflicted by Brain Drain of Skilled Staff

By January 19, 2012 Press Releases

UK Video Games Sector Afflicted by Brain Drain
of Skilled Staff

10 per cent Fall in
Employment Over Last 4 Years
wo-fifths of jobs
lost between 2009 and 2011 relocated overseas

TIGA, the trade association representing the UK games industry, today released
fresh evidence about a brain drain of skilled development staff to overseas
jurisdictions, including the fact that 41 per cent of the jobs lost by the
games development sector between 2009 and 2011 had relocated overseas.

TIGA revealed that: 

  • The UK games industry workforce
    shrunk by over 10 per cent between 2008 and 2011.41 per cent of the jobs lost
    between 2009 and 2011 relocated overseas.
  • The majority of these jobs went
    to Canada, with the next largest territory being the USA.Many games businesses reported
    that the losses were particularly damaging due to the seniority of the
    positions and the difficulty in replacing like-for-like when competing
    with packages of salary, seniority and other incentives offered by
    Canadian companies.
  • Former staff of a single major
    studio (Bizarre Creations) closed by its global publisher owner
    (Activision) in 2011 indicate that up to 35 per cent of them left the UK,
    mostly to Canada, and that disproportionately senior staff went overseas
    versus those that stayed in the UK.
  • The loss of jobs in British games
    studios has seen the Exchequer receive nearly £100m less direct and
    indirect tax revenues, while the sector’s contribution to UK GDP has
    fallen by nearly a quarter of a billion since 2008.
  • The findings are based on a
    survey conducted by Games Investor Consulting of 75 per cent of the UK’s
    games businesses and published by TIGA in a forthcoming report, Making Games in the UK Today: A
    Census of the UK Developer and Digital Publishing Sector
    (January 2012). 

developers in countries including Canada, France, Singapore and the USA receive
tax breaks for games production. Studios in receipt of public support in Canada
are receiving support equivalent to 23 per cent of their turnover, giving them
a significant competitive advantage. No tax break for games production exists
in the UK. Consequently, the UK is missing out on investment and employment in
the video games sector.

TIGA advocates the introduction of a well-targeted tax relief for games development,
similar to the existing film tax relief. This would effectively reduce the cost
of games development in the UK, attract inward investment, stimulate growth in
the sector and halt the brain drain.

Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, said:

“The UK video games development and digital publishing sector provides high
levels of graduate employment, has a high propensity to export, is at the
cutting edge of R&D, and has a world class reputation for IP generation.
The video games industry is exactly the kind of sector that the Government
should be supporting to help rebalance the UK economy.

“Yet our industry is suffering from a serious brain drain. Our competitors in
Canada and elsewhere are able to recruit highly skilled developers from the UK
largely because they benefit from tax breaks, which effectively reduce the cost
of games development. Tax breaks both stimulate job creation in the games
sector and provide games businesses with significant financial resources with
which they can deploy to recruit staff.” 

TIGA recommends that the Government introduce a carefully targeted tax break
for games production to enable the UK games sector to compete on a level
playing field and to prevent the brain drain. TIGA conducted a snap survey of
27 of its members about the potential impact of a new Games Tax relief.Of those
surveyed, 93 per cent said a tax relief in the UK would slow or halt the brain
drain abroad while none felt it would cause the situation to worsen.

Dr Richard Wilson added:

“Without a tax relief, the UK runs the risk of losing its leadership position
in video games development and becoming a finishing school for the Canadian
games industry: with UK universities educating developers and UK studios then
honing their skills before they leave for employment in the Canadian games
sector. This is bad for the UK video games sector, bad for the Government and
bad for the UK taxpayer. We need a targeted tax relief to halt the brain

Jason Kingsley, TIGA Chairman and CEO and Creative Director at Rebellion, said:

“The UK has a highly skilled development workforce but the brain drain of
talented staff overseas is jeopardising this competitive advantage.  The
evidence from overseas is that the provision of tax relief enables studios to
attract and retain high quality staff and to increase employment.

“A carefully targeted Games Tax Relief would enable UK studios to grow and
retain experienced development staff, halt the brain drain and stimulate growth
in the games development sector. TIGA will bring forward a revised,
well-targeted tax break for games production in time for the March 2012

Notes to editors:

The closure of Bizarre Creations by Activision in 2011 is mapped
by some of its former staff, which shows that 35 per cent left the UK, mostly
to Canada, and that disproportionately senior staff went overseas versus those
that stayed in the UK

About TIGA:

TIGA is the trade association representing the UK’s games industry. The
majority of our members are either independent games developers or in-house
publisher owned developers. We also have games publishers, outsourcing
companies, technology businesses and universities amongst our membership. TIGA
won 10 business awards and was nominated a finalist for 9 other awards during
2010 and 2011.  In 2010 TIGA won two business awards including ‘Trade
Association of the Year’ from the Trade Association Forum.

In 2011, TIGA won
eight business awards including ‘Trade Association of the Year’ from the Trade
Association Forum, ‘Outstanding Organisation’ from the Chartered Management
Institute and two Global Business Excellence Awards, including ‘Outstanding
Marketing Campaign’.  Richard Wilson won the ‘Leadership Award’ from the
Trade Association Forum and the ‘Outstanding Leader’ award from the Chartered
Management Institute.

TIGA is an Investors in People organisation.

TIGA's vision is to make the UK the best place in the world to do games
business.  We focus on three sets of activities: political representation,
generating media coverage and developing services that enhance the
competitiveness of our members.  This means that TIGA members are
effectively represented in the corridors of power, their voice is heard in the
media and they receive benefits that make a material difference to their
businesses, including a reduction in costs and improved commercial

For further
information, please contact Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO on: 07875 939 643, or


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