Back in June, during the Gamesindustry.biz Brighton meet up, we discussed studio closures, what they meant to the industry in general and the UK industry specifically. I mentioned that it could actually be pretty easy to do a check of former employees’ profiles on LinkedIn to see what happened to them: how many left the games industry, how many left the UK to find a job, that sort of thing.
This week, for some reason I don’t understand, my brain was fired up at night, I couldn’t sleep and that idea came back to haunt me. So, I spent a couple of hours with LinkedIn and here is the result, a year after Realtime Worlds shut down (maybe that’s my subconscious at work here).
Methodology (sort of)
The method I used is very simple and a bit flawed, but by the time I realized that, I had done most of the data mining and was too lazy to start over. I went in LinkedIn, used the advanced search and looked for anyone who worked at Realtime Worlds in the past. I will obviously miss anyone who hasn’t a linked account, and will include anyone who had left before the studio shut down. The search has to be done per country, and I didn’t search *all* of them but I covered the most important countries in Europe, North America, Canada, South Korea and Japan.
I grouped employees by “job category”: biz/publishing/QA (one of my early mistakes — I should have made QA its own category considering how many people fall under it), producers, game designers, artists (including audio artists), coders. In a few instances, I made calls that are questionable (I put all the IT/admin staff in publishing for instance), but I was consistent doing so and I don’t believe that drastically changes the results.
There are 352 people on LinkedIn who state they used to work for Realtime Worlds. RTW used to have an office in the USA, so it is impossible (without a lot of painful research) to know how many of those currently living there moved from the UK. I will assume that they were all already in the US when working for RTW. The same is true for the employees currently based in South Korea. Everyone else, I think we can assume has relocated to a new country within the year after they left RTW. Here is the repartition per country:
So basically, 90% of RTW employees remained in their own country. Unsurpisingly, the countries that attracted the RTW talent are either very strong in online (Germany, Iceland) or offer very strong tax incentives (Canada). I didn’t have any expectations when starting this research, but this seems like decent retention.
However, despite being based in the UK, I tend to have a more global approach and global concerns, and I am more worried about talent leaving the industry altogether than I am of foreign brain-drain.
Even if it is unfortunate when a country loses talent, at least the industry as a whole is doing OK. With that in mind, I did some segmentation per industry, with the following groups: Games industry, Finance (totally biased choice, I was expecting it to be a strong competitor, especially for coders), Other IT (I included middleware providers in the game industry – so anyone employed by Unity wouldn’t be here for instance), Other industry (none of the above) and ‘status unknown’, which covers basically 2 cases: anyone still working at RTW according to their profile (they could be unemployed or happily working somewhere else, we just don’t know) and anyone who is freelancing. ‘Freelancing’ is really vague – freelancers could be very successfully working in the games industry, or barely making a living, or freelancing in the games industry and the cinema industry or anything else. Because it’s so open-ended, I decided to set freelancers apart. There are also a few cases of people saying they are looking for a job, but it could be that they haven’t updated recently or they are still looking now, so I put them there.
All that said, here is the result worldwide:
So, the game industry has lost 37% of the RTW pool – and that’s a scarier picture to me. Arguably, it is not THAT bad. It could have been a lot worse. Next chart is the same, but only for the UK employees and I added two categories, eeGeo and APB released, to check the number of people who found work through the spin-offs of RTW.
First, the UK numbers are quite similar to the WW numbers – it makes sense as this is the biggest group of the survey. There is a bit less Other IT (RTW US employees were more prone to switch to this segment) and more Unknown status (not a good thing in my book), but the ratio of retention of the game industry is roughly the same.
What is a lot more interesting is to note that the RTW spin-offs only cover 12% against 50% for other game companies. It is by no means a small number. Not having gathered that data, I can’t say which company really helped there, but top of my head, going through the profiles, it is mostly Jagex, CCP and Codemasters. Kudos to them, I am sure they were quite happy to be able to get staff with online experience, a profile hard to get in the very-console oriented UK industry.
The last charts I want to share are the ones highlighting where each job category ended up in in terms of industry.
So, that’s about it. I have put all the data in a google spreadsheet if anyone wants to play with them – as it is imported from Excel, charts won’t look pretty. I should also add the disclaimer that I did this on the spur of the moment for fun, and doing this analysis seriously would require a bit more thinking through beforehand and more rigorous process (for instance, several formulas are likely to break).
Expect a very different topic next time I have insomnia.