Recruitment slows for game developers

Hyper Luminal Staff

Hyper Luminal Games has suspended recruitment in the wake of the pandemic

Games studio boss Stuart Martin is taking a cautious approach to the future as dust continues to settle on the worst of the pandemic.

Like many others in the industry, his Dundee-based independent company Hyper Luminal Games has benefited from increased sales during the shutdowns.

But it is temporarily putting the brakes on expansion plans in the face of rising living costs and soaring energy prices.

“The gaming industry is used to weathering turbulent times better than other industries, but there’s still a sense of caution heading into 2023,” he explains.

“With the cost of living rising and energy prices rising, every business will take a hard look at its cash flow and how best to support existing team members before continuing to grow.”

Hyper Luminal, which has created 40 jobs over the past two years, is now considering “more strategic growth” and is banking on financial support systems for its staff.

He is now aiming for “a slower pace of recruitment as we promote internally through 2023”.

Stuart Martin

Stuart Martin says Hyper Luminal is now considering “more strategic growth”

The company, which has developed games such as Pine Hearts and Big Crown Showdown, is far from alone in rethinking its strategy.

A report from recruitment intelligence platform Games Jobs Live has revealed that the number of jobs available in the UK games industry continues to fall sharply.

It reported 2,085 job openings this month, down nearly 200 from November.

Facts and figures about the UK games industry

Video game developer

Video game developer

  • There are 2,200 games businesses in the UK, supporting 73,300 jobs

  • The industry adds £5.26 billion in GVA (gross value added) to the UK economy every year

  • Scottish games industry supports 5,670 jobs

  • UK consumer games market value hit record £7.16 billion in 2021

Source: UKIE

Since June, more than 700 vacancies have been taken off the market, and currently only 183 of the 2,284 games companies in the UK are actively recruiting.

Vacancies are down across most disciplines, with a significant reduction in code, design, and localization roles.

But perhaps more worryingly, there has been a 31% drop in junior positions available this month, compared to a drop of just 2% in the number of senior positions advertised.

Screenshot of Games Jobs Live

Games Jobs Live suggests the North West region has received more messages

Stuart, who describes the drop in available gaming jobs as “disappointing but understandable given the economic uncertainty,” said Hyper Luminal is still committed to targeting entry-level positions next year.

“Our ‘grow yourself’ approach to talent acquisition is a unique trait that we are very proud of, and we strongly believe that nurturing entry-level roles is essential for the future of talent development. games in Scotland.

“We hope other studios will also keep a steady stream of entry-level roles available to strengthen and grow our industry, even with some turbulence ahead.”

It’s a view shared by Elena Höge, founder of Edinburgh-based Yaldi Games, who wants to see more job vacancies aimed at juniors and graduates.

Elena Hoge

Elena Höge wants to see more video game companies invest in “educating young talent”

“As it stands, job openings in the games industry largely consist of mid to upper-level positions, looking for experts with multiple games delivered in their portfolio,” explains- she.

“The gaming industry complains of fierce competition for talent and a lack of developers, with some job vacancies left vacant for long periods of time.

“But at the same time, they’re not investing in nurturing young talent who could grow to fit in these shoes with a little time and education.”

Healthy video game in development

Yaldi develops games that “inspire real-life activities”

Elena argues that financial incentives from the state could be a way to encourage companies to hire young people.

She says her business has benefited from the UK government’s Kickstart scheme, which was designed to help young people facing long-term unemployment find jobs.

“I used the program three times and kept all the juniors even after the program ended,” she says.

“So for me, it was a huge success, and I know many other game studios, and especially game start-ups, who have benefited from this program.”

‘Fix item’

Games Jobs Live director Colin Macdonald said the drop in open jobs should be seen in the context of the healthy state of the games industry during the pandemic.

He explains: “This year, there is an element of correction with less investment and fewer acquisitions, which affects fewer jobs.

“Concerns about the economy are driving cutbacks, both in terms of layoffs and reduced vacancies, at big tech companies like Microsoft, Sony, Meta and Amazon, all of which have gaming divisions.

“This, in turn, creates jitters about job security, which, combined with rising mortgage rates, results in fewer people moving.

colin macdonald

Colin Macdonald says worries about the economy are driving industry cuts

Colin, who is a former games editor for Channel 4, also believes Brexit continues to impact the industry.

“While Brexit had a limited impact on distribution, it had a big impact on recruitment, with companies struggling to find enough talent in the UK,” he said.

“As an industry, we should be doing more to develop staff internally, through training and ensuring wages remain competitive, so we don’t have to find so many seniors from outside.

“And while the gender imbalance in the industry is slightly better than it was, we’re still not doing enough to encourage more women to participate in games or to make the industry more accessible to those who cannot afford expensive college degrees.”

“Difficult economic conditions”

Dr Jo Twist, chief executive of games industry body UKIE, said that while the consumer games market has continued to grow year on year, “everyone will be affected by the conditions difficult economy”.

She adds, “The industry has thousands of high-value jobs available across the country and we will continue to need highly skilled and diverse talent to continue to successfully drive our sector forward.

The research indicated that the future still looks bright for game companies.

Last month, market data specialist Newzoo predicted a 4.3% decline in global gaming market revenue for 2022, while adding that the long-term outlook remains positive.

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