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Staff turnover and attrition fall, salaries up in games industry

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Aon Hewitt has released key findings from the 2014/15 Games Software Developers' Salary survey, carried out with TIGA, the network for games developers and digital publishers and the trade association representing the UK video games industry. The study, now in its sixth year, surveyed more than a quarter of all UK game development staff, evaluating salaries for 2,671 creative or specialist roles and 562 support roles. 

Steve Munday, senior reward consultant at Aon Hewitt, said: “With six years of data now embedded into Aon Hewitt's databases and a larger sample size than ever before, the Games Software Developers' Salary Survey provides an established, comprehensive and trustworthy source of critical market data. Our 2014/15 survey again provides a detailed picture of this sector, and it will be fascinating to see how trends develop as we see what could well be another golden age for the videogame business in the UK.” 

Graduates’ salaries increase the fastest

The survey shows that while the UK games industry median base salary increase was 3 per cent (compared to 3.4 per cent in 2013), and roughly on par with the national average of 3.1 per cent, graduate salaries increased by 4.3 per cent (compared to 4.0 per cent in 2013).

Dr Richard Wilson, CEO, TIGA, said: “One would expect graduate salaries to rise fastest, as they are generally the lowest. Yet this continued year-on-year above-average increase indicates fierce competition among studios for the most talented graduates.” In 2014, average voluntary employee turnover fell to 11 per cent (compared to 14.5 per cent in 2013), while attrition – where staff leave to join a competing employer – also dropped to 6.5 per cent (from 11.2 per cent in 2013.) A 3.4 per cent drop in turnover and 4.7 per cent drop in attrition are significant decreases and indicate a less volatile employment market.

In 2014, technical development and programming roles saw the largest median base salary increase of 3.7 per cent (compared to 4.2 per cent in 2013) with increases across all other job functions ranging from 2.7 per cent to a high of 3.0 per cent. The 4.2 per cent salary increase for programmers in 2013 was also the biggest rise across all job functions, showing strong and persistent demand for these roles. This year the survey also recorded information on respondents’ nationality (or country of citizenship).  The findings showed that 80.7 per cent were UK nationals. 15.2 per cent of staff were from non-UK European nations, and 2.6 per cent of staff were from Asia-Pacific countries.

Dr Richard Wilson said: “It was also interesting to note that across London and South East England, staff recruited from the Asia-Pacific region into technical development or programming roles, received an average of 25 per cent more than British staff recruited from the UK. This would appear to back up and exemplify TIGA’s argument that UK technology and game development businesses do not typically hire from overseas to save money. Instead, firms are looking outside the EU and the EEA to find rare and specialist staff who are capable of doing a specialist and highly skilled job.”

Dr Richard Wilson continued: “Overall, this year’s survey provides encouraging news for the UK video games industry. Salaries are continuing to increase and keeping pace with the rest of the economy, while both staff turnover and attrition rates have fallen. 2014 was a momentous year for our sector with the approval of Games Tax Relief, following the launch of a new generation of consoles in 2013. It appears that the UK video games industry is set for a period of strong, sustainable growth.”

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