40% Of UK Devs Who Lose Their Jobs Move Overseas

UK trade association TIGA has revealed that more than two-fifths of UK-based developers who lost their jobs between 2009-2011 have since relocated abroad to find work.

The report, “Making games in the UK today: a census of the UK developer and digital publishing sector,” has revealed the worrying extent of the ‘brain drain’ overseas. It claims that the UK game industry workforce had shrunk by more than 10 per cent between 2008-2011, coinciding nicely with times of depression, which has resulted in many devs losing their jobs.


A case study of Bizzare Creations, Liverpool-based developer of the Project Gotham Racing series closed by Activision last year, aptly demonstrates this brain drain. 35 per cent of employees who were made redundant as a result of the studio’s closure moved abroad, mainly to Canada, with an even higher proportion of senior staff choosing to emigrate.

TIGA CEO Dr Richard Wilson spoke about the findings:

“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 game development.

“Tax breaks both stimulate job creation in the game sector and provide game businesses with significant financial resources which they can deploy to recruit staff.”

Source: Press Release



  1. And yet the government will never do anything serious to stop this degradation because of their outdated views on the gaming industry as a whole, most politicians seem to be of the “its for kids” mentality or the even worse “it corrupts our children” view rather than see it as a modern way to replace our losses in the general manufacturing industry.

    • you’re right, the UK can’t compete with the likes of china and india in the heavy industries and manufacturing, but where we can stand toe to toe with the best is in software.
      and one of the biggest branches of the software industry? gaming.

      here we have talent that’s a match for anywhere in the world, we shouldn’t be driving it away.
      we should be nurturing it.

      the government had their chance to introduce these tax breaks, but as usual short term, short sighted thinking ruled once again.

    • Disagree completely, it’s been a hot topic.
      Look at the recent announced changes to the pointless ICT in schools, geared around coding & developing rather than how to format a Word Doc as previous Governments wrongly assumed programming & development would just be off loaded to India & elsewhere

      UK is ridiculously in debt, the debt is being added to more than ever before & despite the change in Government, spending is getting higher & higher with even more sums being added to the almost unsustainable debt.

      At times like this should the Government (tax-payers) borrow even more money & add it to the debt to subsidise an industry just because other countries do, what if tax-payers pumped £500,000,000 – half a billion pounds in & then Canada or Florida just upped their incentives meaning the tax-payers would have to yet find more still? It would be irresponsible especially as American states are getting into a bidding war over which one can offer the most incentive for companies to come & set-up there (remember a company’s existence in a place doesn’t always equal jobs, it could just be an office address for tax purposes)

      Subsidising industries is a folly…

      I think every industry could make a case for the tax-payers to pump money into it & tax-payers wallets are empty enough.

      However, games development jobs are the type of skilled jobs the country should be looking to retain, so the Government should continue to look into adding value to the industry, whilst also looking after tax-payers interests. An impossible task, no doubt.

      • So you disagree completely and yet believe that the Government should be looking to retain and add value to the industry?
        The gaming industry as of 2010 was worth over 2.8 Billion to the economy and this trend will only continue in the future as technology stocks are some of the only constant in the markets.
        The game development market (something utterly different) is also worth over a billion pounds per year.
        This doesnt deserve a tax break? from a country that produces nothing?
        it makes total fiscal sense to subsidise an already important part of our countries economy to sustain an industry thats going to become even more important if our hold on the financial sector loosens, your thinking far too short term Mr Star, its the medium to long term that we need to be thinking.

      • i’ll admit i’m coming at this from a position of ignorance, pretty much, but i do know the gaming industry brings a lot of money into the uk economy.
        and i know jobs are in short supply.

        can the UK really afford to let jobs in such a lucrative sector go overseas?
        i think bringing the income from this industry to the uk outweighs the cost of these tax breaks.

        that’s my opinion, like i said, not the most informed opinion, but that’s what i believe.

      • So what happens when we add subsidy, then Florida & Canada add more subsidy… we then add yet more subsidy?
        What happens when US states get in a bidding war with each other over who can give the most subsidy, we then top the lot with even more subsidy

        Subsidy (or who can give the most money) is incredibly short term compared to education changes on the cusp of taking place, which is a long term measure.

        My disagreement point was on your opening paragraph that Gov will never do anything to stop the degradation.

        I repeat any industry will be able to turn a profit and contribute to the economy if given money. If the Gov were to give me a subsidy I would be able to too, are they going to? no.

  2. this is why i believe the tax breaks for the uk games industry would have been a good thing.
    sure it would lose the government some income in the short term, but in the long term it would create jobs, and god knows this country could use that right now.

  3. I disagree with tax breaks, I believe that the problems with the UK games industry are anything but the amount of money it costs to make a game just on the development side. The fact that developers only receive around 10% of profits on a large console project should be something to concern about. It’s not like you see publishers currently reporting losses now.

    I’d put it down to current business models (excluding PC platforms and computer digital distribution, which are a real saviour) and the talent of some of the developers that have closed.

  4. Welcome to the club.

    The biggest French studio is Ubisoft… located in Canada. Everyone else has long gone the way of the dodo, thanks to a complete lack of funding and support by the French government during the past thirty years.

  5. Darn those seas. We should build a wall! Or start encouraging creative industries, instead of always cutting them, only problem is, I do like the NHS :/

  6. That’s a sad trend. On another note, I really wouldn’t mind if SCEE got closed, and the administration of EU PSS would be moved to SCEA ;)

  7. It’s disgraceful that the government refuses to give the uk devs tax breaks. Sure, it will cost a fair amount but in the long run, it may result in more developers opening up studios over here thus helping to kickstart the econemy. :) It may even replace the Uk’s dying Manufacturing industry but alas, tis not so. :(

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