Headhunters claim open season on British developers

The UK computer games industry is facing a brain drain as skilled developers pack their bags and head to the colonies.

The Daily Telegraph has warned that salaries across the pond in the former British colony of Virginia are much better than Blighty.

Research from consultants Procorre show that more than half of all online gaming job advertisements aimed at UK developers are for positions based in North America, while just 20 per cent are in Britain.

Mainland Europe is also more interesting for British developers and account for more than a quarter of  jobs advertised.

US companies are apparently rushing to recruit British gambling software developers as the country’s laws against online betting are gradually relaxed and more games are needed.

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.

Part of the problem has been the UK industry’s success. London based King Digital is behind the mobile game Candy Crush and Scottish Rockstar North, which is responsible for the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

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.

Lisa Mangan, relationship manager at Procorre, said that for Britain to stay ahead, it will have to keep its skilled workers as there was a real danger the best and brightest will be head hunted by overseas firms who 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.”