Where in the world are the game jobs? It’s an interesting question that veteran tech journalist Dean Takahashi has been pondering for quite some time. He has given a series of talks on the subject, but still hasn’t been able to piece the whole puzzle together. We thought it useful to present some key takeaways from his most recent talk at Casual Connect 2017, taken from his VentureBeat article, and compare them to the current Belgian situation.
Takahashi remarks that the answer to this first question used to be a lot more straightforward. Before the rise of mobile, pc and console gaming ruled the landscape and it wasn’t that hard to point out which regions were strong: Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom. Then the App Store turned mobile gaming into the biggest part of the industry. Along with the democratisation of development tools like Unity and Unreal Engine, this lowered the entry bar for a lot of independent developers, resulting in a boom of game jobs around the world.
Technology may have leveled the playing field, but Takahashi notes that some regions remained strong. He argues there are several ingredients that contribute to a more powerful game development region.
- Strong technology sector. However, this comes with pitfalls as talent might gets lured away by more lucrative tech businesses.
- Presence of entertainment industry. He argues that cinematic masterpieces like The Last of Us could’ve only been created in Los Angeles, by a studio with decades of experience and access to the best screenwriters.
- Good universities. Silicon Valley wouldn’t be the same without Stanford University.
- Cultural engagement. Arcade halls are part of Japanese culture.
- Solid government support. Finland stands as one of the prime examples of government support for the games industry. Tekes, the Finnish government funding agency supports tech startups for hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
- Legal protection.
- Attractive climate for international talent.
According to his research, these are the regions with the highest amount of game jobs
- United States: 2.457 game studios for a total of 65.678 jobs
- Canada: 472 game studios for a total of 20.400 jobs
- United Kingdom: 2.088 game studios for a total of 12.000 jobs
- Germany: 450 game studios for a total of 30.231 jobs
- Finland: 290 game studios for a total of 2.700 jobs
- Sweden: 236 game studios for a total of 3.709 jobs
- Netherlands; 455 game studios for a total of 3.030 jobs
- China: 6.111 game studios (number of jobs unknown)
According to the 2016 FLEGA report, Belgium counts 72 game studios for a total of 656 jobs. While the Belgian games industry keeps growing, it’s clear that we still have a way to go.
Quality education isn’t the issue and we can’t do a lot about the weather. Our cities and universities offer plenty of international appeal. As we’ve pleaded for many times before and has recently been argued by Jan Van Looy in De Morgen (Dutch) our games industry is more than deserving of a tax shelter.
If we want to create more game jobs and keep growing our Belgian games industry, we should take a hint or two from this analysis. If not, we might play catch up forever.