Games employment grows 91%
Ireland’s video game industry has the potential to outperform Government expectations for its development, although it has had some setbacks in recent months, a new report has indicated.
The report, which was unveiled today at the Science Gallery’s Game exhibition, estimates that there has been a 91 per cent increase in the number of people working in the games industry since 2009. Authored by Jamie McCormick for GamesDevelopers.ie, the report found that there were more than 2,800 people employed in the sector, even after some high profile layoffs and closures.
In a Forfas report published last year, experts indicated that up to 2,500 extra jobs could be create in the sector, bringing the total employed by the games industry to more than 4,500.
However, figures compiled in the report in March indicated there were 3,344 jobs across 75 companies here. Almost 300 of these jobs were in core development in 41 teams working across 12 platforms. Around 1,900 were employed in publishing roles ranging from business functions and customer support to various games operation roles.
The research found that jobs were concentrated in the Leinster and Munster area, although jobs in Munster were dependent on fewer firms, leaving it vulnerable to future shocks.
A follow-up survey took account of some of the contraction in the industry, with about 590 jobs lost.
Among the casualties of 2012 were PopCap, which closed with the loss of almost 100 jobs. Blizzard also announced 200 job losses in April, while retailer Game shut its doors around the State in March after it went into administration.
But the survey found that although there had been some closures and a reduction in investment by international firms, 11 development firms and one middleware company had entered the indigenous market. Further firms had also set up after the report’s second survey in October was carried out.
Bioware in Galway is also set to create additional jobs, although these were not include as part of the survey as they have not yet been implemented.
There was also a significant increase in the number of developers of 292 per cent, Mr McCormick said. Part of the reason for the growth in the industry was a change in the
“The market has broadened,” he said. “Games are ubiquitous now. Mobile is very quick to develop for.”
The major firms all began as small companies, MrMcCormick said, and the future big players in the games industry could begin from two developers working together in a garage.
The report warned of a dependency on attracting international businesses to fuel growth in the industry. It identified a need to encourage smaller indigenous firms to become international successes without relying on a merger with a multinational.
It also identified problems with indigenous developers getting games published internationally, and noted that few developers are looking at social platforms for games, despite a huge opportunity that exists there.
The closure of overseas operations can also be a positive for the industry, releasing skilled developers into the market to start up their own enterprises.
“The good news for this is that there are going to be a lot more indigenous companies by the end of the year,” Games Ireland’s Paul Hayes said. “That’s important for developing IP and keeping it in the country.”
He said developing internal IP has been an area where Ireland has previously been lacking, with the industry concentrating more on areas such as middleware.
“I think we’re going to start making an impact on the international scene, which we haven’t from an Irish games point of view. All the talent is here and it’s coming together in a coherent way,” he said.