Uk Losing Games Programmers To Usa And Canada

UK brain drain as games specialists recruited further West

UK Consultancy firm Procorre says the United Kingdom faces a future shortage of IT professionals in the online gaming industry as developing markets recruit for rapid expansion.

According to the research, over 50 percent of online gaming job adverts targeting the UK market are recruiting for positions based in the USA and/or Canada. In contrast only 20 percent are UK based and the remaining 25 percent based in Mainland Europe.

"The UK is regarded as a leader in developing computer games and in online gaming," said Lisa Mangan, Relationship Manager at Procorre. "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."

In a bid to retain their talent, the UK Government now offers limited tax breaks where developers are able to claim up to 25 percent based on their games passing a "Cultural Test" that awards points for criteria such as: the video games development company being registered as a company in the UK at Companies House, the game being set in the UK, UK characters in the game, and whether the production team is based in the country.

"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," continued Mangan, however, "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."

The European Commission-approved tax relief proposal for the UK video games sector was based on over 500 games development studios in the UK, employing around 9000 staff.

Chancellor George Osborne said at the time: "This is a key industry of the future and I want Britain to be one of its biggest centres. 95 percent of UK video games companies in the UK are SMEs. This relief is one of the most generous in the world and will help them to grow, creating new jobs for hardworking people."

The corporate tax relief effectively came into force at the beginning of this month and will provide an estimated GBP 35 million in tax relief per annum to the sector.

UK Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey described the sector as supremely talented and creative saying: "The government recognises the important contribution the industry makes to the economy and is committed to supporting the industry's continued growth through a range of measures like these new tax reliefs."

But overseas markets are offering enticing packages, Procorre says, such as generous tax breaks for online gambling companies that include refundable tax credits and payroll tax credits presently on offer in regions such as Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec.

The burgeoning legalised US online gambling market too, is driving the active recruitment of UK online gambling programmers to a sector that is relatively under developed due to historically strict anti-online gambling legislation.

"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," concludes Mangan. "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."

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